19th of July, 2020. Region 9, Guyana, South America.
The residents of Region 9, Guyana, South America, along with Health and Administrative Authorities, are now grappling to contain the deadly coronavirus as confirmed cases jump to 18 today, 19th of July, 2020.
The Regional Health Officer, Dr. Uthman, reported today that, of the 16 samples sent to the lab last Friday, 17th of July, 7 returned positive for the coronavirus. Three of those cases are from Aranaputa Valley and 4 from Potarinau.
Of the 18 confirmed coronavirus cases, only 13 are presently active: 1 person has died, one migrated back to Bonfim, Brazil and 3 recovered. In addition, due to contact tracing in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, there are 55 persons on home quarantine and 1 person on institutional quarantine. So far, a total of 125 COVID-19 tests were conducted in Region 9.
As the number of cases continue to climb, the Health Authorities in Lethem, Region 9 continue to plead with the residents of the Region to be conscious of the fact that COVID-19 is a deadly reality and to help contain it by adhering to the COVID regulations. Initially, all of the coronavirus cases in Region 9, Guyana were imported from neighboring Brazil. However, there are now records of locally transmitted cases.
Region 9, an isolated Region to the South of Guyana with limited medical facilities, is ill-prepared to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The exhaustive 300 + miles gap between the Lethem Regional Hospital and the capital city of Georgetown makes it difficult and expensive to refer patients down to Georgetown. However, this is often required and air transport is the preferable method as opposed to the rocky, dusty, 12 hours trail which can be unbearable for some patients.
There was an arrangement with the nearby Brazilian city of Boa Vista for Lethem to refer critical patients in need of medical services which the Lethem Hospital cannot provide. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the border between Guyana and Brazil has been closed and that service has been suspended. Brazil is currently overwhelmed with the COVID-19 pandemic which has put great strain on its healthcare system and forced the country to close all borders.
This leaves Georgetown as the only alternative for patients needing medical attention and services not available in Lethem. What makes it worse is that Remote Area Medical (RAM) – a US based charitable program which usually flies patients from the Rupununi interior locations to Lethem and Georgetown free of charge – has been suspended due to coronavirus and all volunteer pilots repatriated to their homelands.
The outbreak of coronavirus in Region 9 raises serious worries as to what will happen if the infection escalates. The Region is already braced with a shortage of medicine, doctors, nurses and medical facilities.
One senior Regional Authority posted today:
Region 9 I heard doctor saying to you on the radio we have one ventilator, we have one covid19 team taking samples, we have one covid19 vehicle, limited beds for isolation, overall resources are limited , our health system will become overwhelmed y’all listen please take a look at what is happening in Brazil . It is sad when you die your love ones see you before the wrap you that’s the end of viewing you will be rapped in plastic placed in a body bag then in your coffin no descent funeral 5 persons. no eulogy, no tributes, no wreaths, in you grave I’ve supervised one funeral so I’m tell you what it is listen up people pleaseJuanita Jerrick-Williams – regional environmental health officer at lethem hospital
A fundraiser has been set up to help residents of Region 9 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here to donate a few dollars if you can afford it.