Region 9 in the throes of COVID, floods and vector-borne disease  

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…heavy rains still affecting many villages 

By Lisa Hamilton  

Residents in Region Nine are still grappling with the double effects of flooding and COVID-19 with some 22,000 persons impacted by the adverse weather and approximately 231 active cases as of July 16, 2021.

“The rains are still with us. Up to one o’clock today we had rains from since yesterday. The water is still here, we can’t say we’ve passed over the rainy season as yet,” said Regional Chairman of the Region’s Regional Democratic Council (RDC), Bryan Allicock. He said that while flood waters have receded in the town of Lethem, there are scores of villages still affected in the region.

Regional Chairman, Bryan Allicock on behalf of RDC, hands over farine pans, grater balls, drums, and water containers to Aishalton and Potaranau village.

Apart from the larger health crisis of COVID-19, residents are now being affected with influenza, malaria and dengue fever, the latter two of which are vector-borne diseases. Crops of a wide variety are punishing and much attention has been turned to cassava which spoils as a result of flooding. Allicock said that many farmers have turned to alternative means of utilizing the cassava such as farine. To assist them, the Civil Defense Commission (CDC), through the RDC, has donated 100 farine pans, grater balls and empty steel drums to assist. Meanwhile, their crops affected include bora, pineapple, papaw and banana.

Food hampers have also been distributed throughout the region and additional distribution efforts continue. “We have a lot [more families without]. Figures are still coming in and we’re trying to get as much as possible into the Region,” Allicock said.

On July 15, some 300 hampers were delivered to the south with special efforts to distribute to those under quarantine. Allicock said that food hampers are one of the Region’s greatest needs as it develops alternative means of survival. Also needed are the second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. “We’re not getting the second dose. We got a few, 200 and something doses but that is one village. We try to look at the most needed recipients of the second dose, those who will complete [the duration between the two doses] within the next 4-5 days and those are the people we target to give them the vaccines first. The others will wait but we’re expecting another shipment soon so we’ll be able to cover the remaining persons,” he explained.

Regional councilor, Vania Albert and District Development Officer, Lester Dookram distributed food hampers to residents in Karasabi Village. (South Pakaraimas).

Residents in far-flung areas do not have to travel to a vaccination site as the teams from the Ministry of Health are visiting them directly. As such, the rainy season has not stopped the vaccination campaign there. The RDC Chair said that most persons remain open to taking the COVID-19 vaccines though there are some naysayers. Based on information provided by the Ministry of Health, there have been over 1,760 positive cases recorded in Region Nine and over 15 persons there have died as a result. Meanwhile, the rainy season has affected areas such as North, South and Central Rupununi which include Sand Creek, Katu’ur, Kumu, Quarrie, Hiowa, Nappi, Parishara, Kaicumbay, Quatata, Yupukari, Katoka, Semonie, Apoteri, Rewa and Fairview among others.

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