Cabinet Outreach

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President Irfaan Ali and the entire Cabinet should not have gone on a outreach at this time when the pandemic is seemingly getting out of control and the government has implemented more strident COVID-19 requirements. Cabinet visit to Essequibo Coast, in spite of what the government will say or hope people will believe, is ill-timed and runs the risk of being a super spreader. Hard as the Cabinet may try to avoid misperceptions it would have been unlikely they would not have come into contact with someone who was not vaccinated.

Guyana is a small society. There are few things the government can do that would not attract attention and criticisms, some well deserving, as in this instance. Important to prevent the spread of COVID is avoiding gathering and practicing social distancing. Photographs of the events in Essequibo showed the government was unable to do either, which would also lead to speculation they may not have observed proper handwashing. The outreach should not have happened now. Should anything go awry as a result of the visit will the government take responsibility or seek to downplay what should not have occurred in the first instance.

The Government cannot continue to act oblivious to concerns that they are setting COVID rules for society which they are not obeying. Evidence to date shows COVID does not discriminate. Aware of these factors, even if the government wanted to take that trip, the Minister of Health should have advised against it. In that they did not see the wisdom to act differently their actions could connote the message that they really don’t care or that the rules are for others not them.

The COVID statistics-deaths and infections- are alarming. The numbers suggest a surge. News that the government has acquired more beds for the COVID Hospital, at Liliendaal, that is reportedly already crowded is disturbing. Conditions of care in the hospital are said to be deplorable. Proper mapping of trends should have informed the government there is a need to create other facilities and better care plans for treating patients. The virus has been in Guyana for more than a year, with the first case found in March 2020. That more than one and a half year after the first case there hasn’t been significant improvement in in-patient management is a crying shame.

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The Pan-American Health Organisation had warned, even before the government grudgingly admitted, that the Delta variant, thus far the deadliest strain, has been in Guyana for some time now. However, there is a sense the government is either un-disturbed or finding great difficulty dealing with the pandemic. Neither situation is acceptable. Of equal unacceptability is the Cabinet outreach when this is a time to avoid gathering and large crowds.



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