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…putting elderly at risk as over 130 die from the virus thus far
By Lisa Hamilton
Over 130 persons at or above the age of 65 have died as a result of COVID-19 in Guyana. This figure is based on information provided by the Ministry of Health since the country’s first COVID-19 related death on March 11, 2020.
Data gathered by the Village Voice News show the youngest pensioner to die was at age 65 while the eldest was at age 94. It is uncommon to see persons higher on the scale of age partying or living very outgoing lives. It is also uncommon for some of the elderly who are sickly to do their own shopping, travel via public transport or even visit a utility service to pay bills.
However, likely due to comorbidities and age, the elderly in Guyana have been dying at a rapid rate. Many may not have contracted the virus based on actions on their own.
According to the figures provided by the Ministry of Health, as of April 16, 2021, dying from COVID-19 were approximately 33 persons from ages 65 to 69; approximately 59 persons from 70 and 79; approximately 32 from 80 to 89; and approximately six from 90 to 94.
Those elderly who have been dying at the most rapid rate are those in their 70s followed by those in their 60s and 80s.
Speaking with the Village Voice News last week, Director of the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF), Colonel Nazrul Hussain lamented that the large number of persons being arrested for partying beyond the established curfew and breaching other COVID-19 guidelines are young people putting both themselves and the elderly at risk. “Your recklessness is contributing to the spread of COVID-19 and the statistics have shown that the spreaders are the young people and the people who are most affected are the ageing…I’m very disappointed with the public behaviour, with the young people and how they go about partying in this reckless manner,” he said, in relation to the joint forces ramped up efforts to arrest such persons.
According to the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO), globally, elderly persons have been the hardest hit by COVID-19.
“While everyone is at risk of contracting COVID-19, older persons are far more likely to experience severe disease following infection, with those over 80 years old dying at five times the average rate. A United Nations Report ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Older Persons’ suggests that this may be due to underlying conditions, which affect 66 percent of those aged 70 and over,” the organisation stated. In Guyana, the Government first prioritized persons 60 years and older to receive the COVID-19 vaccines along with frontline workers. Persons with underlying illnesses were also prioritised at the beginning stage.
In a pressing message to Guyanese last week, President Irfaan Ali said: “Guyanese have to understand that this is not a joke. This is their lives that they are playing with. You can’t put your life in the hands of the Task Force. You have to have a value for your life and if you don’t understand that your life has a value then at least understand that your actions will impact other persons lives, and appreciate the value that other people place on their lives.”