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-MP also calls for tripling of vaccination efforts
Failure to shut down the country could deepen the COVID-19 crisis here in Guyana, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Region Six Member of Parliament, Dineshwar Jaipersaud is warning.
“We will self-destruct, if we don’t lock down this country; and strictly enforce the COVID-19 measures,” MP Jaipersaud said during an interview with Village Voice Newspaper.
His warning comes at a time when there is a rapid increase in COVID-19 related deaths and confirmed cases of the virus here in Guyana. As of Friday, May 28, 2021, Guyana had recorded 380 COVID-19 related deaths while 24 persons were battling for their lives in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU). According to the Ministry of Health’s statistics, 103 persons were in institutional isolation while 1,841 were in home isolation, and nine (9) in institutional quarantine. At the time, Guyana had recorded 16,724 confirmed cases of the virus.
MP Jaipersaud said while Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) is among the geographical districts with the lowest number of confirmed cases of the virus, he is concerned that should it be business as usual, the number of COVID-19 cases will not only increase in Region 6 but all other regions, in particular Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), which has recorded the largest number of confirmed cases of the virus – 8,004 as of May 28.
Despite the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases over the past nine months, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration has refused to shut down the country in its attempt to revive the non-oil economy.
But MP Jaipersaud said it is time to choose life over money. “We must have a lockdown; if we cannot have a lockdown, let us go back to 6pm-6am curfew; let us minimize the amount of people engaging in leisure activities,” the APNU+AFC MP urged.
He said the current curfew, which spans from 10:30pm to 6am, is lending to the spread of the disease since it gives persons ample time to socialize and engage in physical contact, notwithstanding the 6-feet social distance requirement.
“Since this government came to being, they have relaxed the COVID-19 emergency measures, moving the curfew to 10:30pm, but this gives people ample time to socialize, get drunk, get merry, and go home and even take the virus home,” he posited.
The APNU+AFC MP said while the Coalition is pro-business, the lock-down is necessary to flatten the curve. “To the businessmen, it is okay to make money, we have nothing against that, but you have people working there who have to go back home, who are exposing themselves to COVID, taking it back home, and they have families, and elders,” he reasoned.
Earlier this month, Trinidad and Tobago Guardian reported that massive jumps in both COVID-19 numbers and deaths had triggered calls by the Twin Island’s business chambers for tighter restrictions, the implementation of a curfew and an extension of the lockdown. To date, Trinidad and Tobago has recorded approximately 22,620 confirmed cases of the virus and 458 related deaths.
But Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo, during a press conference held earlier this month, said there is no evidence to suggest that a lockdown would reduce the spread of the virus.
“We have demonstrated that there is no imperial evidence to say shifting curfew hours you will get less rates of infection,” Jagdeo said while noting that though other countries have engaged in a total lockdown, the virus continues to spread.
“Take for example Trinidad, which has been in a perpetual state of lockdown for the last year, and it did not help really,” Jagdeo pointed out.
But MP MP Jaipersaud is adamant that a lockdown and stricter enforcement of the COVID1-9 Emergency Measures are needed.
COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAMME
The APNU+AFC Region Six MP said in addition to the lockdown, the Government should heighten its COVID-19 vaccination programme to achieve herd immunity.
“If we lock down this country for two weeks, we can vaccinate the entire country; two weeks of lockdown, and in every region you have 10 vehicles, two nurses…we can go street to street,” MP Jaipersaud posited, while noting that there is also a need for increased public awareness on the benefits of the vaccine.
According to Reuters COVID-19 Tracker, Guyana has administered at least 245,616 doses of COVID vaccines thus far. “Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 15.7% of the country’s population,” Reuters said.
It added: “During the last week reported, Guyana averaged about 4,848 doses administered each day. At that rate, it will take a further 33 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population.”
However, the country finds itself in a conundrum. Just days ago, the Ministry of Health confirmed a shortage of the vaccines here.
It said while both first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccines are being administered across the country, the second dose of the Sputnik V vaccine is currently unavailable.
“Currently, all sites have in stock, the Sputnik V first dose available for vaccination. Sputnik V second dose can be administered between 4 to 12 weeks. However, we currently have a delay in our supplies,” it explained.
The Health Ministry noted, however, that a further shipment of Sputnik V first dose and second dose vaccines will arrive in Guyana soon.
“The Guyana Government is awaiting shipment information, and we will advise the public as soon as the MOH receive shipment details,” the Health Ministry said.
Additionally, AstraZeneca and SinoPharm are no longer available for the first dose, the Health Ministry disclosed but noted that the second dose is available.
“But everyone who has received their first dose will get their second dose. These doses are currently available,” it stated. The Government and Opposition have been urging persons living in Guyana to get vaccinated to flatten the curve.