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…as GPHC issues notice restricting the unvaccinated
By Lisa Hamilton
In what could be a contradiction of the Constitution of Guyana, a public advisory has been issued barring all unvaccinated persons from entering the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and its satellite clinics unless seeking medical attending or possessing a negative PCR test.
Article 24 of the Constitution of Guyana states: “Every citizen has the right to free medical attention and also to social care in the case of old age and disability.” However, following is Article 25 which states: “Every citizen has a duty to participate in activities designed to improve and protect the health of the nation.”
Without delving into the legal aspect of its decision, the GPHC issued the notice on Friday on its social media page, immediately causing public uproar on social media.
“Unvaccinated persons seeking to enter the compound will not be permitted to visit patients or any clinical areas. If the visitor has an appointment, they must present a negative PCR test result that was produced within 72 hours from a testing site that is approved by the Ministry of Health. Only persons seeking emergency medical attention will be permitted to enter the compound without showing proof of vaccination. Any person accompanying a patient must present their national ID and vaccination card before entering the Emergency Department,” the notice stated.
All other persons entering the compounds, including visitors, patients and contractors, must present their vaccination card and Identification (ID) card. Meanwhile, persons who need to transact registration of birth or deaths or other business, as well as patients who visit clinics and those who have scheduled elective procedures, have been urged to “prioritize getting vaccinated in order to facilitate continuation of service and care”.
Under the post was a flurry of unhappy and angry citizens. “This is getting ridiculous now. For the umpteenth time, the vaccine isn’t a cure. If it was a cure we would have all taken it already. The vaccine reduces the risk of severe symptoms if you get COVID-19. You can’t force people to take something they don’t want to, when done you decide to cut people from their right to certain Government services if they are not vaccinated. This is discrimination to the max,” said Devindra Miranjie.
He added: “I won’t be surprised if Guyana turn like St. Vincent. This Government is forcing mass protests. This vaccine campaign is poorly managed. Who is giving [Minister of Health, Dr.] Frank Anthony advice in this pandemic? Can’t Frank Anthony think for himself and pick sense out of nonsense? This campaign should have been handled way better. The people of Guyana are losing confidence in this Government’s ability to handle this pandemic and execution of this vaccination drive. Next election this will cost you guys dearly. I fed up with this wrong direction that this Government is taking with dealing with COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, Awab Hamid put forward: “This advisory does not provide accommodation or guidance to those who have contraindications to the vaccine. For example, those who have a proven history of life-threatening allergic reactions to previous vaccines or those who are already so severely immuno-compromised that the vaccine itself is dangerous. The latter category includes cancer patients or patients who have recently had an organ transplant. This advisory is very strange and I think many of the great doctors at GPHC would have many issues with it.”
Seeking legal advice, the Village Voice News was made aware that the act may not be a breach of Article 24 as persons are not prevented from accessing health care, they can access the same granted that they meet the stipulations as outlined.
This was likened to Article 148 (1) of the Constitution which states: “No person shall be deprived of his freedom of movement, that is to say, the right to move freely throughout Guyana, the right to reside in any part of Guyana, the right to enter Guyana, the right to leave Guyana and immunity from expulsion from Guyana.”
However, restrictions to travel have long been put in place to safeguard the health of the nation. These include mandatory negative PCR tests for entry to the country and, most recently, vaccination requirements for those entering the country.