PAHO urges countries to step up coronavirus testing; 348 persons tested in Guyana so far

PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne,
PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne,

The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa F. Etienne, has called for accelerated and expanded testing for COVID-19 in countries of the Americas.

According to the Director, there is need for a clearer view of where the virus is circulating and how many people have been infected in order to guide actions.

Speaking at a virtual press briefing, Dr. Etienne said, “The pandemic continues to impact our region, and it’s vital for all countries to actively embrace preventive measures, while preparing for more cases, hospitalizations and deaths.”

As of April 20, there have been 839,119 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 42,686 people have died in the Region of the Americas.

The PAHO Director said that countries have been prepared to test and detect cases of COVID-19 since before the pandemic was declared. Since February, PAHO had trained and equipped laboratories for PCR testing in more than 30 countries. But as cases have increased, countries have found it increasingly difficult to keep up, she noted.

Dr. Etienne highlighted PAHO’s recommendations for countries: to expand their capacity and use all available national laboratories; to prioritize patients with symptoms, tracing contacts and following up with those that may be infected; and to ensure access for all so testing would be free of charge for patients.

PAHO said it has provided more than 500,000 PCR tests to 34 countries and territories, and has worked with other countries to track and support their capacity.

An additional 1.5 million PCR tests are being dispatched throughout the Region this week, “followed by another 3 million next week to strengthen laboratory surveillance networks in our member states,” the Director highlighted.

The Ministry of Public Health has confirmed that the total number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Guyana stands at 67 as of April 21, 2020.

Of these 67 cases there have been seven deaths and nine recoveries. To date, a total of 348 persons have been tested with 281 of those testing negative.

Seventeen persons remain in institutional quarantine while 51 others are in isolation.  Three persons are housed in the COVID-19 ICU at GPHC.

Globally, WHO has recorded 2,314,621 confirmed cases with 157,847 deaths.

Citizens are asked to always wear a facemask when leaving their homes and to practice social distancing in the workplace, public spaces, and while using public transportation to reduce the spread of the coronavirus diseases.