Supreme Court confirms staff members tested positive for Covid-19 

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Dear Editor

The Supreme Court notes with consternation the publication of an extremely misleading article under the hand of one Richard Millington, Esq. Director of Communications of the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy.

Among other things, this article accuses the management of the Supreme Court of callous disregard for the safety of its staff, their families, attorneys, judicial officers and other court users consequent on a few members of staff testing positive for Covid-19. It is unfortunate that the author of the article did not see it fit to contact the Supreme Court for information.

The Supreme Court wishes to state categorically that the health and safety of all court staff, their families and all court users is of paramount concern to the management of the Judiciary, and always has been. The Supreme Court collaborated with the Ministry of Health and the Covid-19 Task Force in the implementation of all established guidelines and protocols to ensure the safe operation of the judicial system.

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From the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Guyana to present, the management of the Supreme Court has done everything in its power and taken every precaution including but not limited to regular sanitization and fumigation, provision of PPEs for staff, provision of free transportation to and from work for staff to minimize the risk associated with the use of public transportation, stationing of community health workers at court entrances, use of technology in the conduct of trials to reduce the amount of persons who have to come to our courts on a daily basis, paying for Covid-19 testing for staff at Eureka Labs, and arranging for the Covid-19 vaccines to be made available to our staff and members of the Judiciary.

In addition, the Supreme Court has arranged webinars for all staff throughout the country on the effects of Covid-19, responding to the pandemic and vaccination. Another webinar is scheduled for May, 2021.

Despite these and other measures, over the past week and a half we received reports of members of our staff who have tested positive for Covid-19. In every instance, we arranged for testing for those who were identified as having been at greatest risk of exposure. We also did contact tracing and sanitized the offices where those persons worked. Staff members have been required to quarantine for the requisite period as required by the Ministry of Health.

Every case was treated with the utmost seriousness and all protocols were followed. Management is actively considering all options as we seek to take the best course of action for all concerned in light of the fact that the Judiciary is designated as an essential service to the populace.

The Supreme Court has always maintained contact with the Ministry of Health and the Covid-19 Task Force to ensure that all health requirements are implemented. We have active Covid-19 management committees which meet regularly. An emergency meeting was held on April 22, 2021 with heads of department and supervisory staff to discuss the current situation. We reiterate that it is indeed unfortunate that despite what is a robust Covid-19 response, inaccurate views could be expressed.

Management wishes to also reiterate that we do not take lightly our obligation to provide a safe work environment for our staff and all our court customers and will continue to take every precaution necessary to promote and maintain the health and well-being of us all.

Regards

Mrs. Jonelle Fields-Edwards

Court Communications and Protocol Officer

The Supreme Court of Judicature



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