The Health Ministry has announced that there are 26 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, which takes the total positives recorded to date to 5449. However, the number of persons recovered from the virus to date is 4530, while the death toll remains at 151.
In the daily update, the ministry said at present there is a total of 726 persons isolating at home while 39 are in institutional isolation and three are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Also, on Wednesday, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony announced that the Government is in the process of acquiring proper storage units for when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.
Currently, two vaccine companies, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, have both filed for US emergency regulatory approval, and with those hearings set for this month, Dr. Anthony believes a vaccine could become available very soon.
“We have been in that process of procurement to get those freezers, and of course we have to train our healthcare staff to be able to administer the vaccine, so we have started the preparatory work for that training, developing the manuals for training, and so forth,” the minister is quoted by DPI as saying.
Minister Anthony also recalled that Guyana would access vaccines through the international vaccine alliance mechanism COVAX, meaning it could be either of the two up for approval.
“While we wait on COVAX to acquire those vaccines for us, we are also preparing internally and making sure that we are ready for whenever the vaccine is available, so that we can also quickly roll it out,” Dr Anthony said.
Through COVAX, Guyana will receive 20 per cent of the COVID-19 vaccine. The first three per cent will be given to frontline workers and those high-risk patients.
The Pfizer vaccine requires very cold storage, minus 70 degrees, while Moderna also requires very cold temperatures.
“That can create some logistical challenges for the people doing the immunisation, so we are improving our cold storage, expanding that cool storage. In some cases, we have to add new storage rooms and things like that,” the DPI reported Dr Anthony as saying.
First antigen test training
Meanwhile, some 30 staff members of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) have completed training on how to administer the COVID-19 antigen test.
According to Dr Anthony, the one-day exercise was done with a live demonstration of the antigen test. But equally important is that it signals the institution has started using the test.
“That training went very well! It’s about three or four hours that they were there, and apart from the theoretical aspect, they went through some of the more practical things using the actual test, so that they can familiarise themselves with the use of the kits. So, they have completed that, and we have been able to give the Georgetown hospital a number of kits so that they would be deploying that in their facility,” Dr Anthony said.
The second round of training began on Wednesday. Minister Anthony has also indicated that this round would be a train-the-trainer session for potential instructors for the hinterland regions.
Additional COVID-19 testing sites
Also, on Wednesday, DPI reported that two additional COVID-19 testing sites would soon be established in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) to encourage more people to voluntarily get tested for the disease.
The testing sites are located in New Amsterdam and Skeldon hospitals, and should be completed by this weekend.
Speaking with DPI, Regional Chairman David Armogan said this approach aims to foster more testing, as opposed to persons calling the region’s hotline number for assistance.
“The majority of cases that would have accounted for the increase that would have come over the past month would have come from Orealla and Siparuta, but the 14-day period would come to a close by Thursday; so, quite a number of those tested positive will now be clear,” he explained.
The Region is now able to receive test results in about 48 hours, instead of the seven to eight days that it previously took.