Health authorities urged to ramp up testing for COVID-19; 455 persons tested so far in Guyana

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With coronavirus (COVID-19) cases increasing almost daily, there are calls being made for health authorities of the various countries, including Guyana, to accelerate and expand testing in order to obtain a clearer view of where the virus is circulating, and how many people have been infected.

Health experts have underlined increased testing as one of the key actions that could be taken to win the battle against the pandemic.

According to Guyana’s Ministry of Public Health, as of April 26, 2020, a total of 455 persons have been tested for the virus. 74 of those tested have returned positive, while 381 returned negative.

Eight of those persons tested positive have since succumbed to the disease. Five patients are currently in the COVID-19 ICU at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

According to the Ministry, in institutional quarantine, there are 24 persons while 53 others are housed in institutional isolation. Twelve persons have been medically cleared and have since recovered from the virus.

Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Carissa F. Etienne, recently pointed out that even though countries were prepared to test and detect cases of COVID-19 since before the pandemic was declared, the increasing cases being recorded over the past few weeks posed a real challenge, and countries are finding it very difficult to keep up.

She said that, as the pandemic continues to impact the region, it is vital for all countries to actively embrace preventive measures while preparing for more cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

PAHO has since made some key recommendations for countries to: expand their capacities and use all available national laboratories; prioritise patients with symptoms, tracing contacts and following up with those who may be infected; and ensure access for all, so testing would be free of charge for patients.

The Ministry of Public Health is urging all citizens to heed the health advisories and observe the correct hygiene measures and precautions. Citizens are also asked to always   practice social   distancing in   the   workplace, public spaces, and while using public transportation so as reduce the spread of the coronavirus diseases.