COVID ICU is not a death sentence

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…Dr. Ramsammy says there is a high rate of recovery though the deaths continue

By Lisa Hamilton

In an evident contrast, while Guyana is maintaining a robust vaccination campaign, its COVID-19 death rate has been increasing significantly each month. Data from the Ministry of Health shows that there were 13 deaths in January; 20 in February; 36 in March; 66 in April; and 96 in May.

On social media, some persons have labelled the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as a death sentence, though it is there that the most critical patients go for the best possible care towards recovery.


In an interview with the newspaper Advisor to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said while persons who were within the COVID-19 have died, many have recovered. However, he first explained that while some countries with very high vaccination rates as the United States are experiencing a reduction in deaths, in other countries in areas such as Latin America — where Guyana is situated — there have been increases in cases and deaths even alongside vaccination efforts.

The Health Advisor said that this may be a result of the varying strains of the virus and their effect on the population.

“We know that the virus that is spreading, it has learned to transmit itself more rapidly, more quickly, more easily and it is deadlier because whereas the initial virus required people to have comorbidity in order to cause serious illness, the virus that is spreading now does not necessarily require comorbidity,” he said.

During Guyana’s initial period of the virus in 2020, while it was shocking to hear of double and triple deaths, there are now as many as eight deaths recorded for one day. For example, the highest number of deaths within the month of May took place on May 24, which recorded 8 deaths. Five deaths each were recorded on May 2 and 6.

Despite the glaring numbers, Dr. Ramsammy said that it is not everyone who is transferred to the COVID-19 that succumbs. He said that there are different factors that lead to death or recovery.

“We should not just assume that everybody that goes into the ICU dies, because, in fact, most of the people who end up in the ICU for COVID are managed. They are very sick but most of them are able to recover. We shouldn’t just assume because we see these numbers that all of them or most of them die,” he explained.

He said that for the approximately 70 persons in Guyana’s COVID-19 hospital, the majority of them are discharged and new cases come in. As of June 3, 2021, there were 403 deaths for which 239 occurred in just over five months in 2021.

There were 17 persons in the COVID-19 ICU which was a reduction of two persons from 19 on June 1. There is no data accessible to the public to indicate whether these persons died, recovered or are still on the journey of recovery.

As of June 3, Guyana recorded over 17,450 COVID-19 positive cases and over 15,160 recoveries. This presents a gap of over 2,290 for which may include persons who have died, those in institutional and home isolation, those in institutional quarantine and those in the COVID-19 ICU.

Dr. Ramsammy said that the increase in COVID-19 deaths is of concern to the Ministry of Health which is why it continues to urge persons to follow established protocols and to get vaccinated.

He said that the Health Ministry has noticed that the majority of persons who are now testing positive are below their 60s and from areas in Guyana that do not have a high uptake of the vaccine.

He urged: “Be careful. Don’t think that this thing is over yet, get vaccinated…continue to follow the guidelines, wear a mask, stay apart from each other and don’t leave home if you don’t have to.”

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