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Guyanese have to admit surpassing 9000 persons infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is not good news. This is a crisis. As of March 13, the infected cases are 9,069 and deaths 206. The disheartening news comes a little over a year when Guyana confirmed its first case (March 11, 2020). A pandemic that is not yet under control, it is fair to say this number is likely to grow higher. Of concern is the Government is not doing enough, including working in an inclusionary manner, to diminish the spread of the virus.
Recently President Irfaan Ali was at a function and left after expressing disapproval with the event planner and attendees for not observing COVID-19 guidelines. Though the act was laudable and a wakeup call, the truth be told this was or is not unique to that event but has become a normal practice, even by government officials and at government and political party events. The mixed message being sent by leaders is not making the situation better. Neither would Guyana be able to effectively manage the virus when all are not involved or feel their input matter.
Managing the virus is not a one size fits all and there are numerous examples around the world. In the Information Age, where Guyanese here have the opportunity to observe how other countries and governments are managing the virus, Guyana is light years behind. Another problem is alternative or dissenting opinion is not valued or time taken to examine whether such is useful. If opinions and advice are not from the government or those they see favourably they are not likely to pay attention.
A virus that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has ruled a pandemic and consistently preached for a collective approach to combat, the Government of Guyana continues to prefer a solo approach. This publication and others have repeatedly appealed for the WHO approach. We think the collective approach makes sense and has proven throughout times it is the only way a pandemic can be curtailed and eliminated. The support and input of all must be valued.
COVID-19 is real; it is dangerous; it is taking lives and there are side effects after recovering. The Mayo clinic has listed these side effects some of which include organ damage (lungs, heart and brain), blood clots and blood vessels problems, problems with mood and fatigue. Those 8,265 persons that have recovered could likely be so affected. Acknowledging this would require a more assertive and collective approach to protect the health of Guyanese and reduce what could become new pre-existing conditions that would impact the quality of life of the recoveries and put additional strain on the fragile healthcare system.
Statistical data revealed that from March to July 2020 Guyana had 413 cases and 40 deaths. Eight months into the new government the cases have ballooned to 8,656 and 166 deaths. When other countries’ numbers are falling Guyana’s numbers are going in the opposite direction. According to Reuters News, Guyana is 48% of peak and rising. This is scary and every Guyanese, whether infected or know someone who has or died from it, should see the seriousness of what is happening.
The Government cannot ignore these figures and should revisit its strategy. Something is not working. The vaccination exercise is not the solution to COVID-19 because the vaccine is not a cure and not 100% foolproof in preventing infection. The Opposition cannot ignore the boldface numbers. Guyana is in a bad situation relative to many other countries. It is not a good feeling.