Guyana: Authorities Track Hundreds Who Came In Contact With Relatives Of Dead Coronavirus Victim

(KAIETEUR NEWS) — Hundreds of people may have exposed themselves to the deadly Coronavirus after mingling with relatives of Ratna Babolall, the woman who succumbed last Wednesday.

The Ministry of Public Health is now saddled with the task of trying to track them down, while seeking to impose more stringent measures to ensure that individuals who are infected remain isolated.

Babolall had tested positive for the virus on Wednesday and by Saturday three more of relatives, her husband, son and another relative tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID -19).

Officials attached to the Ministry of Public Health, (MoPH) has since revealed that steps have been taken to ensure that the confirmed cases are in full quarantine.

According to the Health Ministry, a surveillance team is actively working with others who are said to have come into contact with the victims. These individuals are recommended to self isolation until they were deemed safe for public interaction again.

However, Kaieteur News has learnt that despite the warning against public interactions, scores of people attended a wake held for the deceased woman at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara on Thursday. The publication understands that the wake was hosted by the woman’s husband and other relatives , all of whom were present and tested positive for the virus.

This newspaper was told that residents, friends and extended family members attended the gathering. In a Facebook post, one woman said that she attended the wake “to investigate whether the claims of Coronavirus were true.”
In a lengthy post shared multiple times on social media, the woman said that the family members that the MoPH announced were in self isolation, “were very much present: at the wake, and had vehemently denied that Babolall’s death was a case of the COVID -19.

Kaieteur News understands that the household, which comprises of eight adults and six children, were still carrying on with regular activities up until Saturday night, when an ambulance, with personnel dressed in body suits and masks, turned up at the premises.

Prior to that, persons were reportedly visiting the home regularly.

“People were going and coming. They were going out shopping and doing everything as normal until last (Saturday) night, when an ambulance show up with the people in the masks. Since then, like less people going there but they are still at the house. There is still the little boy who goes to the shop for them regularly,” the source added.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry has been working to track down persons who could have been exposed to contamination.

On Saturday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Dr. Karen Boyle said that as many as 200 persons could have been exposed to the dead woman, since her arrival in Guyana last weekend.

In addition, one of the dead woman’s daughters was allowed into the country a few days later, although the authorities were briefed not to let her in.

She has displayed symptoms of the COVID-19, and has been advised to self-quarantine.

The Public Health Ministry has confirmed that some persons have not been strictly adhering to the rules of quarantine.

Dr. Boyle subsequently told this publication that the MoPH is seeking to implement stricter measure to safeguard the public.
According to Dr. Boyle, the MoPH is looking for the best ways to ensure that people protect themselves and their loved ones as well as the wider public.

She noted that as an extreme measure, the Ministry will employ methods to forcibly detain persons in the interest of public safety.

The novel Coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China during the latter part of last year. The virus has infected in excess of 100,000 people in more than 100 countries and over 4,000 have reportedly died as a result.

Even as the local health sector shares plans that should see its efforts to prevent an outbreak of the virus ramped-up, the Ministry is urging all persons who believe they have been exposed to make contact with the Ministry by calling telephone number 227-4986 [ext. 215] between the hours of 8am and 4:30pm and 624-6674 and 624-2819 between the hours of 8am and 4:30pm.

The Ministry is advising that persons do not panic and follow the usual health protocols to ward off respiratory viruses.

These measures include “frequently clean hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty; when coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue.

Social distancing and self isolation are among the recommendations pegged globally to prevent the spread of COVID-19 commonly known as the Corona virus.

Meanwhile the latest news on the coronavirus out of Suriname revealed that fourteen persons have been quarantined in Albina.

All hospitals will only be accessible from the main entrances. Non-urgent operations will be postponed where possible. The emergency department of the AZP will only be possible in urgent cases.

All hospitals will be involved in the treatment of potential COVID-19 patients.

Other facilities such as Juspol temporarily suspend public visits to establishments (jail visit). The Surinamese Court postponed hearings and the bar association also expects changes.

By Friday, March 20, the Dutch authorizes expect 50 doctors and nurses will come from Cuba to assist with the Covid-19 related approach.