Persons with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other chronic non-communicable disease are at greater risk of death as a result of the novel coronavirus – COVID-19.
At a press conference in Kingstown on Wednesday, where St. Vincent and the Grenadines announced its first case of the illness, Dr. Jose Davy, the infectious diseases specialist in the Ministry of Health, said that special attention must be paid to persons in these categories.
“Yes, the persons at risk we want to be paying special attention to: our diabetics because being diabetic you’re already immuno-suppressed. Also at-risk will be the elderly as we heard, persons with high blood pressure and persons with cardiovascular disease,” she said.
“And this risk increases because of the pneumonia that comes with COVID-19. So those are our most almost at-risk population.”
She said that children under 9, “thankfully have not been so affected.
“We expect children to be severely ill with this disease. But this is not happening. And we thank God for that.”
Regarding keeping one’s self safe from COVID-19, Davy advised proper hand washing techniques, adding that a video had been released about how to wash one’s hands properly with water and soap.
“Don’t touch your face. Cough etiquette: cough into a tissue; discard. It sounds like almost a [broken] record now, everything that we have said, but we have to keep saying it.
“If you’re a diabetic, do your best to keep your blood sugar under control. Hypertensive: Take your medicine; this is not the time to leave it in the cupboards. Please take it. If you have a cardiovascular disease, ensure that everything is under control,” Davy said.
And, Patsy Wyllie, chief health promotion officer in the Ministry of Health, told the same press conference that her ministry has had the support of physician Dr. Jerrol Thompson who has met with persons living with HIV.
“… so that education is going on,” Wyllie said.
“Also, we’ll be meeting with our diabetics and hypertensives. There are associations throughout our health districts. So we have started and we’re going to continue to work with them.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Senator Luke Browne noted that “only persons who are very old and by very old, we basically mean over 80” or those with underlying health conditions “are really especially vulnerable” to COVID-19.
“… and this makes it, as far as its epidemiological profile is concerned, something comparable to flu and other ailments that we have a lot of experience with,” he said.
“So what we’re saying here is that we could draw on our vast experience in some of these other areas to make sure that we try to keep this COVID-19, this coronavirus in check.”
Browne said that that is what his government is doing.
“That’s why we’re reinforcing some standard practices that we have learned almost from time immemorial, that could be applied to minimize the spread of infection,” Browne told the press conference.
He continued: “So we really want to commend that to you in the public and to assure you that we will continue to monitor the situation with a view to best manage risk, protect your safety and at the same time, ensure that we could continue with our regular lives in as best a way as possible.”