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Health sector contingency plan as doctors, nurses among rising COVID cases

Last Updated on Tuesday, 4 January 2022, 22:41 by Denis Chabrol

Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony on Tuesday said doctors and  nurses are among those afflicted  by what appears to to be the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus, COVID-19, but he assured Guyanese that there is a countrywide contingency plan should more health workers become sickened.

“Currently we have enough staff to manage,” he told Demerara Waves Online News/ News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM.  He said the back-up arrangements have been already discussed with the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and Regional Health Officers.

Official statistics show that within the past 24 hours Guyana has recorded 485 new cases, the single highest daily total.  “We can expect that this trend would continue because with the Omicron variant, it is highly contagious and the number doubles every four days,” he said. There are now 1,824 active cases, with 1,138 in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).

Speaking during his daily COVID-19 update, the Health Minister remarked that health sector workers were already being impacted by the coronavirus. “There are a number of persons who have tested positive, both doctors and other medical staff. We have been constantly monitoring and we have taken mitigation measures so it has not had a big impact so far on service delivery but if more and more people get sick, well then obviously is going to have a big impact,” Dr. Anthony said. He added that most of those infected are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and they are expected to return to work shortly.

Dr.  Anthony said that in a nutshell the health sector was prepared to reassign nurses and doctors to treat more COVID-19 infected patients and others seeking other types of medical attention. “We will move medical personnel from non-life threatening areas to areas where there is need,” he said.

According to the Health Minister, mostly unvaccinated persons would require hospitalisation and those who have not taken a booster vaccine could become infected quite easily. “We wouldn’t expect a lot of people being hospitalised although we have prepared for people to be hospitalised,” he said. So far, only 12,306 persons have taken a booster jab.  He said persons, who have taken two doses, should not be severely infected by Omicron. Up to Tuesday, 411,735 persons have received a first dose and 296,424 have received a second dose.