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A recent publication of the Kaieteur Newspaper (January 12, 2021) carried a news article headed, “31 businesses warned for breaching COVID-19 measures”. The article stated that the National Covid-19 Task Force issued the warning letters to the businesses for breaching the gazetted Covid-19 regulation. The article added that some of the businesses were repeated offenders and so they were threatened with closure if they were found to be continuously non-compliant. Surprisingly, the Hon. Minister of Education also announced that even some schools are complicit. This is alarming and even frightening.
Not only is this a show of disrespect for authority, law and order, but it is also a risk to the health and well-being of citizens in the face of a pandemic that has infected over 6,500 Guyanese and killed 170 to date. Guyana can ill afford to lose many more of its citizens to this pandemic. All lives matter.
It is noted that some businesses have become lax with the Covid-19 measures they implemented at the beginning of the pandemic in Guyana. Initially, customers were greeted at the entrance of the businesses by a staff member who took the temperature and applied sanitizer to the hands of the customers; but it appears that these measures have waned. Some of the changes noted are as follows:
The sanitizer now dangles from a string or is placed on a shelf at the entrance and all and sundry have to hold/touch the bottle to apply the sanitizer (and remember that some persons are asymptomatic).
Since there is no one to monitor or apply the sanitizer, some customers either do not apply it or perform an act as if they did apply it, when in fact they faked it.
Some staff members who take the temperature at the entrance do not even bother to look at the reading on the instrument. They just go through the motion of placing the instrument close to the hand of the customer and wave them on.
In a few instances, when customers present their hand to have their temperature taken, the staff member at the entrance informs them that the gadget is not working.
Physical/social distancing is observed in the breach.
Mr. Editor, all of this is taking place at a time when there is a resurgence/spike of infections and deaths and the discovery in some countries, including neighbouring Brazil, of new strains of the Covid-19 virus that are more contagious. What is also unsettling is the rejection by the Hon. Minister of Health of the announcement by a local laboratory that it had detected a new strain of the Covid-19 virus in Guyana. Whose report should we believe? Let us get it right Guyana. No room for error now. There are already suspicions of the accuracy of some of the cause of deaths of some persons by Covid-19. Enough.
There is some comfort that vaccines have been developed to treat the virus but these will take some time before they arrive in Guyana. So, let us do not let our guard down. Let us continue to observe the Covid-19 protocols. Do your part. Let us make it a national effort. Covid-19 will not go away anytime soon. Big up and nuff respect to all of the front-line staff who are battling this pandemic. Let us show our love for them by being mindful of our actions and doing our part to heal the world.
Bernel L.H. Wickham.