25th of July, 2020. Region 9, Guyana, South AmericaLast updated: August 7, 2020 at 12:04 pm
Lethem’s first COVID-19 case, a Brazilian resident who was born in the Rupununi, has reached out to this publication to tell his side of the story since he feels he has been served a great injustice by the way in which the Guyanese Media portrayed his story.
Fell Sick in Monkey Mountain
Mr. Hamlet admits to having crossed the Brazil border illegally to go to Monkey Mountain because his work demanded it and he took the risk, but he says he was not alone in this practice at that time, but that many other people were also crossing the border illegally. At that time, he was not sick or having any symptoms.
Mr. Hamlet related that, contrary to reports in the Guyanese Media, he did not get sick in Bonfim, but that he became sick in Monkey Mountain where he had been working for the previous days.
After falling ill in Monkey Mountain, Mr. Hamlet asked the Toshao to assist him in procuring some malaria treatment from the Health Center of the Village since he had suffered from malaria in the past and thought he was having symptoms of malaria. The Toshao managed to secure the medication and give it to Mr. Hamlet. However, he did not feel any improvement after taking the medication.
Coming Back from Monkey Mountain
On the 7th of March, Mr. Hamlet’s illness had gotten worse and he decided to leave Monkey Mountain to get treatment at home in Brazil. He explained that, due to being sick, he had to travel slowly. After driving the trail for about 7 hours, he finally reached Lethem where he managed to park his vehicle and walk across the Takutu River Bridge in a desperate attempt to reach his home in Bonfim. Upon arrival in Bonfim, Brazil, Mr. Hamlet was attended to by Brazilian doctors who once again treated him for malaria. However, despite taking the medication, he still did not feel better.
Lack of Testing Facilities in Bonfim
At this point, Mr. Hamlet became worried since he feared he might have contracted typhoid by drinking contaminated water from the ravines along the trail to Monkey Mountain. Since Bonfim did not have the facilities to test for typhoid, Mr. Hamletdecided to go back to seek help in his birth land of Lethem and he admitted to having crossed the border illegally on the night of the 8th of March, 2020 in order to seek help at the Lethem Regional Hospital. However, at that point, he was not diagnosed with COVID-19 and thought that he might have had typhoid, dengue or malaria or a combination of those illnesses.
Lack of Treatment and Fear of Death in Lethem
Mr. Hamlet relates that, after having been diagnosed with coronavirus in Lethem, the doctors at the Lethem Hospital informed him that he was the Region’s first coronavirus case, and as such, they did not have the medication or the know-how to treat him. His pressure and sugar–two underlying conditions from which he suffered – were going through the roof. However, Mr. Hamlet said that the Lethem Hospital did treat him well for the underlying conditions but did not, and was not able to, treat him for COVID-19.
At that point, Mr. Hamlet said he told the doctors of the Lethem Hospital that he would like go home to Bonfim, Brazil. However, he was told that there would need to be consensus on that and that, most likely, more officials would agree to send him to Georgetown instead of back home to Bonfim, Brazil. He was told that there was a 60/40 chance of being allowed to return to Bonfim – with 60 for Georgetown and 40 for Bonfim.
Mr. Hamlet also related that everyone in the hospital was looking at him disdainfully as though he had committed a crime, and on this note he wishes to remind all Guyanese that we are all humans and were are all vulnerable to sickness at anytime. On this note he says he wishes to advise Guyanese to be more caring and helpful to each other during times of sickness and need.
Lack of Empathy and Concern: A Contrast with Brazil
Mr. Hamlet related that he was amazed and saddened by the way the Guyanese people treated him, looked at him and talked about him when he was in Lethem, and this contrasted sharply with his experience once he returned to Bonfim, Brazil. He related that the contrasting experiences proved that the Brazilian people were far more kind, cooperative and caring for the sick. On this note, he said the Brazilian people came together and offered him all the help and encouragement he needed to recover – which he is today – fully recovered.
A Grueling 7 – Hours Journey.
After being told that he would not be allowed to return home to Brazil, but would be sent to Georgetown with just the clothes on his back and no one to care for him, Mr. Hamlet said he feared for his life. He was feeling so weak he was at the brink of death. But that night, he said a prayer and asked God for strength to take himself home. At around 4 AM on the morning of 10th of March, Mr. Hamlet jumped through a window at the isolation facility in Lethem and made good his escape.
He related that he was so weak that he had to rest every ten steps or so and as result, it took him nearly 7 hours to arrive in Bonfim. After resting, sitting or lying down for some time, Mr. Hamlet summoned the strength to pull himself up and go a few more steps. He waded and swam across the Tabatinga River at the risk of being attacked by reptiles and other creatures. Finally, he made it into an old run down house in the bordering town of Bonfim, Brazil and pulled an old asbestos sheet over himself to protect from the drenching rain.
At that time, he took out his phone, summoned the last ounce of strength he could and called his family and gave them directions. He said his phone had survived the grueling voyage because he had clasped it with his teeth to carry it over the river, but the screen broke, and when he made the call, there was just one bar of battery life left.
Mr. Hamlet, who survived coronavirus despite having three underlying medical conditions, would like to share some advice on how he survived the coronavirus in the hopes that it would help others. He said that, in addition to the conventional medicine served by the doctors, he also used a lot of herbal remedies such as garlic, lemon grass tea and “lots and lots of bush tea” from Brazil the names of which he does not know.
He relates that these herbs played a crucial role in nursing him back to good health and he would strongly advise those who get the virus to use them, or for others to help those infected by administering herbal remedies.
Wrongly Accusations and Derogatory Statements
Mr. Hamlet related, that, subsequent to his illness and return to Brazil, a number of individuals, whom he could call by name, posted false and derogatory statements about him on social media. One such is a post that labeled him a murderer. Mr. Hamlet would like to openly and publicly refute and condemn such accusations and statements which only seek to harm his reputation.