COVID-19 sufferers ‘taking too long to seek help’ says Barbados CMO

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Randy BennettArticle by
Randy BennettPublished on
February 10, 2021

Some people with COVID-19 seeking private medical care, are being misdiagnosed, says Chief Medical Officer Kenneth George.

Even more startling, some people are at home with the viral illness and reaching medical authorities when it is much too late.

In fact, he said it was one of the reasons Government launched Operation Seek and Save, which he said was aimed at identifying cases of COVID-19 in the community at an early stage.

“What we have been finding is that persons are presenting late and the later you present the more likely you are to not have a good outcome and that was part of the reason we are doing the Seek and Save campaign because we felt that two things were happening; that private practitioners were misreading symptoms and calling it something else and we have reached out to BAMP to close that loophole and we felt that persons were presenting from the communities too late,” Dr George told Barbados TODAY during an interview.

Last week Prime Minister Mia Mottley disclosed that Government was pushing ahead with Operation Seek and Save.

As part of the initiative, which is being held in collaboration with the University of the West Indies, teams have been deployed in communities during the national pause from February 3 to 17, to detect possible cases of the respiratory virus.

Mottley said over 400 persons had been trained for the programme and nine swabbing teams had already been put in place.

At Tuesday’s press conference,  the Prime Minister disclosed that 29,000 households have been visited by the volunteers.

In response, President of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), Dr Lynda Williams, admitted to Barbados TODAY she was aware of a situation in which a patient was diagnosed with having dengue fever when in fact that person had COVID-19 revealed through a positive test.

However, Dr Williams said she did not believe it was a widespread problem.

Both viruses have similar symptoms including headache, muscle or joint pain, nausea and vomiting.

“It is just that we have to be aware that COVID-19 and dengue are similar in presentation and that you must have a high index of suspicion in any case of a viral illness where the person appears sick, no matter what they present with.

“I saw a patient last week who had a headache, and he appeared to have a viral illness, just headache, no fever, no cough and he had COVID. We have to be very careful, all of us. It’s very possible to have dengue and COVID too. Having one does not exclude you from having the other, so basically anyone who appears sick and has a viral illness needs to be tested,” Dr Williams revealed.

“We had sent some papers to the Ministry [of Health] to show that you can have a positive dengue test and it’s because it’s cross reacting with COVID so you might not have ever had dengue. So all of these things present challenges that doctors face because it’s very, very difficult to differentiate between the two diseases.”

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