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…as workers locked out after refusing Covid vaccine
Scores of staff of the Guyana Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) have been locked out of the compound after refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine or produce a negative PCR test result.
The workers have mocked what they called the duplicity of the administration, noting that since March last year when the virus broke out they were deemed essential to work beyond the call of duty to help the nation fight the pandemic. ” After all that we did, now we are no longer needed,” one of the locked out staff told the media.
The workers also charged that the government was in breach of the Essential Services Act which require that healthcare workers not to engage in strike action or be prevented from working.
On Wesnesday the hospital issued a memo starting that all staff are now required to be COVID-19 vaccinated prior to entering the GPHC compound or produce a negative PCR test at a frequency that will be determined by Management.
This is according to a circular issued by the GPHC Human Resources Department to all Heads of Departments. It applies to all staff attached to the GPHC, its satellite clinics and the Ocean View Facility.
The only persons exempted from this directive are breastfeeding mothers, pregnant women, persons who tested positive for COVID-19, persons who have received blood transfusions and persons with underly conditions.
“Effective August 26, 2021, the Corporation will be enforcing the COVID-19 Protocols in accordance with ‘The Official Gazette 29th July, 2021 Legal Supplemen -B’ that governs COVID-19 Emergency Measures,” the circular stated.
It added: “Employees who are not vaccinated are required to provide a negative PCR test result upon entering the GPHC compound, the frequency will be determined by Management. These results will only be accepted from Ministry of Health authorized private labs where the cost is borne by the staff.”
The GPHC stated that the decision was made in the best interest of the health and wellbeing of all staff under its purview and, by extension, Guyanese people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All of the aforementioned to whom the circular applies will have to present their vaccination card and ID upon entry of the compounds or a negative PCR test.
Last week, President of the Guyana Nurses Association (GNA), Cleopatra Barkoye said that the Government should have consulted the Association and the Office of the Chief Nurse, as opposed to its current “forced vaccination” approach.
Under the new COVID-19 Emergency Measures, which took effect on August 1, unvaccinated medical personnel including nurses and doctors are given two options – be vaccinated against COVID-19 or produce a weekly negative COVID-19 PCR result.
However, by the night of August 11, the Health Minister relaxed the measures for public health workers and public transportation operators after residents blocked the Mackenzie/Wismar Bridge to protest the Government’s Vaccination Policy. The Policy had resulted in many unvaccinated nurses, doctors and even patients and relatives of patients being shut out of the Linden Hospital Complex.
In making the announcement, Minister Anthony said the two-week extension was a result of representation made by various stakeholders. However, Barkoye has warned that the two-week extension given to nurses and other medical personnel to get vaccinated would result in little change given their concerns.
This is even as protests against mandatory vaccinations continue in Georgetown, Linden and other parts of the country.