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…stresses need for comprehensive approach to tackle raging COVID-19 pandemic
People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Executives, Dr. Karen Cummings, MP and Dr. Richard Van West Charles, on Thursday, said it is time for the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony to ‘step up’ or ‘step aside’ as they expressed disappointment over the poor management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
In recent weeks, there have been an escalation in the numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths. To date, Guyana has recorded 740 COVID-19 related deaths. On Wednesday, the country recorded 362 new COVID-19 cases. Its total number of confirmed cases is now 30,186 with 36 persons battling for their lives in the COVID-19 ICU. Dr. Van-West Charles warned that the trend will continue if changes are not made in the management of the pandemic.
The PNCR Executives argued that the actions of the Government are causing more deaths, more infections, and more hospitalizations of citizens.
“This is due primarily to its abandonment of the Coalition’s effective Covid-19 plan that it inherited, and its determination not to have any bi-partisan approach to managing this pandemic,” Dr. Cummings said while alluding to the fact that the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has placed Guyana on Tier 4, meaning, the country’s COVID-19 level is ‘very high.’ The CDC has advised travelers not to travel to Guyana.
Dr. Cummings, a former Minister within the Ministry of Health, said Dr. Anthony should “step aside” if he unable to provide details and specific information on the number of free PCR testing sites in Guyana; the types of COVID-19 variants in the country; the infection rate among citizens; the number of vaccinated persons who have died from the virus inclusive of their age and gender; and the amount of AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sputnik V vaccines received to date compared to the amount administered.
The PNCR is also calling on the Health Minister to disclose whether there is a National Register for the collection of data on adverse effects from the vaccines; the number of persons who have underlying conditions that have been vaccinated; and information on the systems currently in place for persons with underlying conditions to receive Exemption Certificates.
“The PNCR calls on the Government, once again, to take politics out of Health and have a national multi-stakeholder approach that would result in no deaths, less infections, and less hospitalizations,” Dr. Cummings urged.
Weighing in on the matter, Dr. Van West Charles said the Health Minister has been both general and evasive when confronted with critical questions on the pandemic. “It is for that reason we are saying he either steps up or step aside because this is a serious matter, and I agree that the cases are escalating, and we cannot continue as a responsible political party to witness the uninformed nature by which Dr. Anthony is answering questions with no specificity,” Dr. Van West Charles said.
While underscoring the importance of vaccination, Dr. Van West Charles said Minister Anthony needs to take a more serious approach. He posited that the Health Ministry could benefit from the expertise of persons both locally and abroad.
Asked whether a lockdown is necessary given the rise in cases, Dr. Van-West Charles said it would not be if there is proper management of the pandemic and full adherence to the COVID-19 Emergency Measures.
“If this cannot be done, then the lockdown and serious curfew arrangements need to be put in place,” he said while underscoring the importance for there to be an inclusive approach in the management of the pandemic. Like Dr. Cummings, he said the Government has disbanded some of the effective systems which were in place at the time of the change in administration.