Guyana's President, David Granger, confirmed the first case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Georgetown on Wednesday, March 11. The individual was a 52 year old woman with underlying health conditions who had traveled from the US and returned to Guyana on Thursday, March 5. She had sought medical care on Tuesday, March 10, and subsequently died on Wednesday morning. Authorities are currently conducting contact tracing to limit community spread of the virus.
The government will continue to conduct health screenings for travelers arriving from high risk countries, including Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Brazil, French Guiana, Panama, St. Vincent, the US, China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Iran. To prevent further spread of the virus, the President has discouraged public gatherings and non-essential travel. Guyana's Ministry of Public Health has also advised the public to observe good personal hygiene and to practice social distancing as a precautionary measure.
As of March 11, no other cases have been confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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