October 1, 2016

Number of suspected cases declining – Dr Norton

Although there have been over 100 suspected cases of Zika Virus since its outbreak in Guyana, it has been revealed that the number of suspected cases locally has started to decline.
This information was disclosed during an interview with Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton, who said that the noticeable symptoms were not as prominent as before.

Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton

Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton

Guyana was flagged as one of the countries which were likely to be adversely affected by the mosquito-borne Virus, by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this year.
During the 2016 National Budget debate last month, former Health Minister, Dr Bheri Ramsarran had lambasted the Public Health Ministry for ignoring the seriousness of the Zika Virus.
At that time, only one case of the Virus had been recorded in Guyana, but the Opposition Member of Parliament noted that there have been reports of many more suspected cases.
Subsequently, Dr Norton confirmed this, disclosing that he has also received reports from health facilities that a large number of persons have visited with signs and symptoms closely linked to the Virus.
However, as a result of there being no medical personnel to take samples for testing, these persons were treated for the common symptoms and sent away.
The number of suspected cases had continued to climb, and more than 90 samples were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for testing.
Some of the persons whose symptoms corresponded to the Virus were placed in a quarantine unit and underwent observation until their samples were returned to Guyana.
Fortunately, for Guyana, however, there might not be such a panic anymore in terms of the Virus spreading, Dr Norton said, adding that the number of confirmed cases remained the same.
There have been five recorded cases in Guyana, the first being a woman from Rose Hall, Berbice who tested positive in January.
Four additional cases were then recorded in February, one being a teen from Eccles, in addition to two Cuban doctors residing on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) and a woman hailing from Timehri.
Nonetheless, even as the situation has shown improvement, preventative actions are still being taken to ensure that the Virus does not become endemic in Guyana.
These include fogging exercises throughout the Regions by the Vector Control Unit (VCU), and campaigns to spread awareness of the signs and symptoms of the Virus and what could be done to reduce one’s risk.
Additionally, there will be continued surveillance at the ports of entry to observe persons coming in to Guyana, especially from other countries affected by the Virus.

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