President Ali’s COVID-19 concerns

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President Irfaan Ali, at a recent press briefing at State House, has expressed his concerns about citizens disregarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines, and has proposed measures that might be taken by his administration to mitigate the spread of the disease. Admittedly there is a growing disregard for the measures that could reduce and contain the spread of the virus, but the government also has to be honest with itself and look at how it has contributed to this.

There have been too many calls, including by this publication, for the management of COVID-19 to take a national not partisan approach. This continues to be ignored, though it is being noted the President said he will be engaging civil society, political parties, religious organisations in what he called a “national coalition.”  Where our elders admonish that, “too late, too late, shall be the cry” they also believe that “it is better late than never.” It is hoped the President’s “national coalition” is indeed that.

The A National Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic make up at least 95 percent of the electorate. The APNU+AFC is a political force that cannot and should not be ignored in fighting this deadly virus. It is also observed in the President’s list of organisations, he did not mention the trade union. It is hoped this is an oversight not deliberate. The trade union is a mass-based organisation and the only organisation that has more daily interaction with its constituents. People spend five days a week at work and there is no more fitting place to promote COVID- 19 education and prevention than through the various workplaces.

The pandemic is getting out of hand. There are so many hotspots and a growing unease the government seems incapable of handling spread. Essequibo Coast, Region Two, is now a hotspot. The truth be told the Ali government management to the pandemic is more like the United States (U.S) Donald Trump management.  And as the U.S suffered under Trump’s management Guyana is likewise suffering.

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Observers have seen U.S President Joe Biden taking a completely different approach and is leading by example. There has been no event where the Biden administration has not observed small gatherings, social distancing, wearing a mask, and sanitising the rostrum before any presenter makes a speech. The Ali government has not taken a similar approach and is still doing public outreach in close proximity to each other, probably thinking with a mask this makes it acceptable.

There seems also to be greater reliance on vaccination not containing spread, but vaccinated people have been infected nd are spreading the virus. An aggressive vaccination programme that ignores the needs to enforce and obey all other COVID-19 precautions is equally bad. Likewise jailing people will also not stop the spread. All reputable health organisations have explicitly stated vaccination is not a cure, but should a certain percentage be vaccinated, the society could reach herd (population) immunity.
According to the U.S Centre for Diseases and Prevention Control (CDC) “Population immunity means that enough people in a community are protected from getting a disease because they’ve already had the disease or they’ve been vaccinated..[and] While experts don’t yet know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve population immunity, vaccination is a safer way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19.” Said CDC also advises that “… experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine also helps keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.”

Reducing the spread of COVID-19 still requires a national approach-all hands-on deck- and most importantly, the government leading by example. These are still to happen. Village Voice hopes it happens soonest because Guyana has become a crisis.  Countries have also started issuing Travel Advisory warnings to their citizens about visiting Guyana.



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