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…teachers’ union calls for immediate closure of schools
With 65 teachers and 44 students hit with Covid-19, the Guyana Teacher’s Union is calling on government to close all schools immediately.
Government on Monday reopened schools countrywide amid a surge in positive cases and deaths here. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the GTUC said positive cases have risen exponentially over these last three days in Guyana, especially with the reopening of schools for face-to-face engagement. “The Ministry of Education ignored their own (government) Gazette order for social distancing (6 feet apart) and large gatherings, which were recently issued for January 2022. Also, WHO’s advice to observe one (1) meter apart as acceptable social distance has been breached with two learners seated in a single bench about a meter long,” the GTU said.
It added that the most worrying is the number of schools that reported positive cases for teachers and students. “The numbers continue to climb in every education district in Guyana. The
union’s datasheet shows that sixty-five (65) teachers, forty-four (44) learners have reportedly tested positive in two days of school. Also, fifteen schools were forced to close due to COVID 19 cases. However, some schools are operating despite reporting issues of COVID 19.”
As the GTU is demanding that all schools be closed immediately so that the Ministry of Health can conduct a proper assessment before advising on the way forward. We are aware of the challenges presented by online learning and that reopening schools for face-to-face is our preferred option, but let us be mindful that we need a healthy nation to progress.
“ The rate at which persons are getting sick due to COVID 19 infections has to be addressed now. The only way to preserve the lives of our children, teachers, and their families is to suspend all face-to-face engagements in schools. We depend on the Ministry of Health to tell Guyanese the truth so that we can all work to preserve lives,” the release stated.
Earlier on Wednesday Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony reported that Guyana recorded 788 positive Covid-19 cases and two deaths in the last 24 hours. “Over the last 24 hours we were able to detect 788 new cases and this came from 1,878 tests so the positivity rate has gone up so it’s about 41.95 per cent, and that shows that we have a lot of people getting positive very quickly,” Dr Anthony said. “We have anticipated that these numbers are going to double and we are seeing that happening right now,” he said. The total positive cases now stand at 2554, with Region Four having 1648, Region Six, 338, Region Three, 206, Region Nine, 115 and Region 10 with 82 active cases. Fifty-nine persons are hospitalised with 36 in the Ocean View hospital, five of whom are in the ICU.
Despite the rise in cases, the health minister is assuring citizens that there is adequate testing capacity at the National Public Health Reference laboratory. “I think we have the capability of doing at least 2000 PCRs over a 24-hour period, that’s fairly large. We also have GeneXpert machines that we have placed at the various regional hospitals so they can do some amount of testing there and with antigen testing it does not require much of an infrastructure, just the test kits. We have adequate test kits across the public health system and they are being used,” Dr. Anthony said. In addition, more than 12 private health facilities have been certified to do testing.
The minister noted that with the increase in cases, persons may panic and want to get tested, however getting tested too soon after exposure might not get an accurate result. “Don’t go and swamp the testing sites. We have seen a lot of people showing up at testing sites and demanding to be tested, but if you go too early you are not going to know what’s your true status,” he said. “You will have to be quarantined first of all and wait at least five days before you go and get tested. If you go right away and get tested it’s going to show negative. If you go the next day and get tested it’s going to show negative, so you have to wait that window period out before you get tested. For these tests to work, a person would have to be infected, they would have to get an adequate amount of virus in their system before the test can detect it,” Dr. Anthony added. Persons showing Covid – 19 symptoms are advised to get tested.