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– accuses gov’t of putting business interests over the health of Guyanese
Reckless – that was the word used by the Leader of the Opposition Joseph Harmon to describe the decision by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration to open the country’s airports to international travel and reduce the curfew hours to 9pm to 4am amid a growing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Harmon, during a virtual press conference on Friday, said the decision comes at a time when there are close to 3,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus Disease in the country. To date, 85 persons have died from the virus – the majority within the past two months.
“This response by government appears contrary to professional advice and places the need to satisfy business interests over the health of our people,” the Opposition Leader said.
Given the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Opposition Leader is urging Guyanese to safeguard their health by practicing a number of preventative measures.
“Wear a mask in public and even at workplaces where social distancing rules are violated; practice safe social distancing; avoid too much physical contact with people and wash hands regularly and use a hand sanitizer. It is advisable that you get your own sanitizer as we are advised that in some offices and public places, the hand sanitizers are being diluted. Advise your friends and neighbours to observe these rules,” he urged. The Opposition Leader also encouraged Guyanese to observe the rules for safety and enforcement of the COVID-19 19 laws as announced by the government.
Earlier this week, former Minister within the Ministry of Public Health under the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), Dr Karen Cummings and a number of other Opposition Members of Parliament had criticized the Government’s handling of the COVID-19. Dr. Cummings had said that the home isolation programme and poor implementation of the COVID-19 emergency measures were lending to the rapid increase in cases.
The Government, in announcing the amended emergency measures, said it will be embarking on a massive education campaign dubbed ‘Operation CoviCurb’ to mitigate the spread of the disease.
“We want to focus on education, moral suasion, communicating aggressively throughout the length and breadth of Guyana and finally to use enforcement measures,” Prime Minister Mark Phillips said on Thursday during a press conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
Acknowledging that enforcement appears weak at the moment, the Prime Minister said strict systems would be put in place to ensure adherence to the COVID-19 preventative measures. .
“We envisaged that within the next seven days, we will have over 5,000 persons operating in a multi-sectoral, inter-agency setting, working throughout Guyana to curb the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
The education campaign will include the use of multimedia for the dissemination of information on the pandemic, its impact and how Guyanese can work together to bring the numbers down. A hotline will also be established to receive reports of persons flouting the emergency measures.