The Government of Guyana (GoG) having persons home isolate is tantamount to the administration abandoning its duty to deliver healthcare to those infected, and the dereliction of its responsibility to reduce the transmission of the virus, says former Junior Health Minister, Dr Karen Cummings. She contended negligence on the government’s part by positing two arguments: no assurance that home isolated patients will adhere to protocols; and the apparent “shifting” of financial burden on those infected.
In its COVID-19 update of October 20, the Health Ministry reported that some 805 persons are on home isolation.
During a virtual press conference today, the “shadow” Health Minister said that it is “wishful thinking” that the Health Minister expects home isolated patients to stay home and not expose their family members to the virus.
“In other words, the Minister of Health is hoping that approximately 9 in every 10 persons with coronavirus in Guyana will stay safely at home, and keep away from family, friends and strangers at all times, while wearing a face mask all day once they are not sleeping. Thus, more persons become infected and die with each passing day as the COVID-19 pandemic marches on and the government does nothing of note,” she said.
Dr Cummings added that the government insisting on home isolation saves the ministry money, while imposing financial burden on the infected. She listed 10 way in which the ministry saves money and transfers that burden unto those patients:
1. They (Ministry) no longer have to find nurses and doctors to provide patients with daily checks to ensure they are recovering well.
2. They no longer have to ensure patients have access to vitamin supplements such as Vitamin C and Zinc along with medication for fever, headache and cough.
3. They no longer have to supply each positive patient with a minimum of 3 surgical face masks a day to prevent them from spreading COVID-19.
4. They no longer have to ensure that all COVID-19 patients have 3 nutritious meals a day
5. They no longer have to provide the patients with access to running water and hand soap to wash their hands as often as need be
6. They no longer have to provide laundry services to ensure infected patients’ clothing and bed linings are appropriately decontaminated
7. They no longer have to provide infectious waste disposal services to ensure tissues patients cough into and infected waste are properly decontaminated and discarded
8. They no longer have to ensure patients are in well, naturally ventilated rooms or air-conditioned rooms with specialized air filters
9. They no longer have to ensure patients’ rooms and furniture are constantly sanitized
10. They no longer have to provide PPE – face masks, face shields, gloves, shoe covers, and gowns – for doctors and nurses to use daily – a minimum of 3 times per day to follow-up on patients.
Though this is not an extensive list, Dr Cummings said that Government saves about $24,500 a day for every COVID-19 case that is on home isolation. By transferring these costs and allowing persons to home isolate, “constitute a dereliction of duty by the Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony and the PPP regime”, she argued.