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By Mark DaCosta- Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy has announced visitation restrictions will be altered or removed at the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal. However, the minister has not revealed the basis for the government’s decision.
The minister said, “The majority of patients that we have there are for other diseases [apart from COVID-19]. We have taken a decision that we are changing the visitation rules because when we only had COVID-19 patients, we were not allowing people to visit patients in the hospital, so we are changing the rules, we will be allowed (sic) visitation.”
Minister Anthony elaborated saying that, “There are several infectious diseases that we would normally work on and unfortunately some of the patients would require hospitalisation. So, in cases of TB, for example, some of these patients require hospitalisation and we have been using the facilities that we have at ocean view to hospitalise some of these infectious disease patients…So that’s why anybody who is coming there should take protective measures. When we open it up, we hope that the general public would cooperate with us.”
While, understandably, all Guyanese want a return to normalcy, it may be noted that the government’s decision comes while there are more than 50 confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in Guyana.
According to a September 7th report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), “There were just under 4.2 million new infections last week [worldwide] and about 13,700 deaths – a 5% drop.” Regarding those statistics, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “This is very encouraging, but there is no guarantee these trends will persist.”
The Director-General added, “The most dangerous thing is to assume (that) they will.” He said, too, that even though the number of weekly reported deaths [worldwide] have plummeted more than 80% since February, one person still dies with COVID-19 every 44 seconds and that most of those deaths are avoidable.”
Expressing her concern that the pandemic is not over, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, noted that the virus has not yet settled into a seasonal pattern and that its continued evolution will require constant surveillance and possible tweaks to diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.
A senior health official told Village Voice News Minster Anthony cannot ignore the views expressed by internationally recognised experts. The minister should either reconsider the government’s decision or reveal the scientific basis for the decision to allay fears government may be putting the health of the entire population at risk, the official said.