CORONAVIRUS: Health Ministry begins detection training

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Guyana’s Public Health Ministry has begun training medical personnel and other relevant individuals on the detection of the deadly coronarvirus, which has already claimed the life of more than 17 persons in China.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Karen Gordon-Boyle revealed that the country’s port health officials have been alerted and are sensitised on how to detect signs and symptoms of the disease.

She said a screening tool and a questionnaire will be used to gather information on the onset and natural course of illnesses of persons suspected of having the virus.

Gordon-Boyle disclosed that in the new week, training programmes targeting key staff including port health officers, immigration officers and customs officers will be conducted by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in collaboration with Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and World Health Organisation (WHO).

In addition, the DCMO stated that the Infection Control and Prevention Committee of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is ensuring that the medical institution is in a state of readiness to care for any infected person.

“Any person experiencing fever or flu-like symptoms should visit the GPHC or the nearest regional hospital,” Dr Gordon-Boyle urged.

Symptoms of the ailment include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat fever and a general sense of being unwell. Patients can develop pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and in severe cases, even death.

While the incubation period for affected persons is still not known, it is advised that patients be isolated from the healthy population for some 10 to 14 days.

In the event that a person shows up with the coronavirus, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) are being asked to support with the testing of samples, Dr Gordon-Boyle said.

The outbreak of the virus has been linked to Wuhan South China Seafood City, also called the South China Seafood Wholesales Market and the Hua Nan Seafood Market. Chickens, bats, cats, marmots, and other wild animals are also available for sale in that market, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak.

So far, the WHO has been counselling hospitals around the world on infection, prevention and control. However, the global body has “advised against travel or trade restrictions at this time based on available information,” a statement said.