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—says govt missed opportunity to collectively tackle pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic provided the Government with an opportunity to work collectively with all stakeholders, including the Opposition, to develop the best possible strategy to fight the virus, but instead of capitalising on this it is bent on adopting a partisan approach, says Opposition Member of Parliament, Dr. Karen Cummings.
“COVID-19 has given us an opportunity for us to work together and one would have thought Government would have grasped this opportunity and don’t play politics. But what we are seeing here is immature politics…but COVID doesn’t have race, it doesn’t have colour, it doesn’t have religion because persons are affected. It could be your family; it could be my family,” Dr. Cummings said.
At the time, the former Minister within the Ministry of Health, was addressing reporters during a virtual press conference on Thursday. Dr. Cummings said as the pandemic continues to spiral out of control, the Government remains bent in its ways, completely shutting out the Opposition out of any and all key decision making process regarding the pandemic. On Thursday a total of 967 people tested positive for the virus. Dr. Cummings said the spike in cases comes as no surprise, explaining that during the Festive Season the Government took a decision to minimise the curfew, resulting in a number of super spreader events.
But that aside, the Opposition is convinced that the Government is poorly managing the pandemic, resulting in more infections and even more deaths.
“One of the disturbing features of this phenomenon is the mishandling and the mismanagement of the COVID-19 situation by the current regime. It is well documented that the abandonment of the effective Coalition’s COVID-19 comprehensive plan, the deviation from a consultative democracy, and the high cost of the partisan approach have led to dire consequences,” Dr. Cummings told the press.
According to her, Guyana has not only seen a diagnostic gap owing to inadequate testing sites for the virus detection but also a sequencing gap as the variants of the COVID virus cannot be determined here. “No one knows how many testing sites are there, the locations, and what is really the intention of the current Regime as it relates to testing for the virus? Hence, it is evident that there will continue to be levels of inequities,” she posited.
But the Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, on Wednesday, said the country has the capability to facilitate well over 2,000 tests in a single day but Dr. Cummings is not convinced. According to her, there is little or no access to the analysis of clinical data. “The Guyanese public continues to be dis-informed, mis- informed, and ill-informed about Covid, its variant, and now the omicron variant which has overtaken the delta variant in terms of transmissibility,” she posited.
She questioned whether the country will be able to attain herd immunity anytime soon and the approach taken by the Health Ministry to preserve the lives of persons with co-morbidities, particularly those who have become infected.
“Are stringent efforts being made to ensure that a comprehensive treatment plan is in place to meet the needs of those with underlying conditions? The data has suggested that if the underlining conditions of these patients are monitored and controlled with the appropriate treatment, chances are that the covid variants in these patients could be minimized,” she reasoned. The Opposition MP also expressed concern for frontline workers, who are at severe risk of contracting both the Delta and Omicron Variants.
With more than 50 health personnel inclusive of doctors and nurses at the Georgetown Public Hospital already infected, Dr. Cummings made a call for frontline workers to be provided with the requisite protective gears.
“The Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony should move to provide adequate personal protective equipment such as the N95 or KN95 mask to the healthcare workers because of its effectiveness. However, we do encourage the populace to continue to wear a surgical mask or a cloth mask as the adherence of this protocol would minimize the effects of the COVID Spread,” she urged.
Weighing in on the matter, Dr. Nicolette Henry, another Opposition MP, said attempts to solicit critical information and data from the Government even through the Parliament have been met in inadequate responses sometimes even silence.
She said the Opposition, in putting Guyanese first, has always expressed a willing to participate in any decision making process to help fight the pandemic but the Government has remained partisan in its approach