A total of 142 Guyanese returned home on Thursday via WestJet Airlines – the first repatriation flight for citizens who were stranded in Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
Shania Thompson, 19, explained that she had contacted Guyana’s consulate in Toronto three months ago hoping to be reunited with her loved ones in Guyana. According to the young lady, “being there alone, during the pandemic, without my family really took a toll on me.”
“It is a relief [to be back]. Honestly, I can’t believe I am here right now because I felt as though I was struggling for the 4 months I couldn’t come home,” Shania said during an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI).
Noting that she will be occupied with online classes during her time in Guyana, Shania pledged to continue to observe the safety guidelines that kept her safe in Canada, along with the stringent measures set out by the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF).
For Shawn D’Aguiar, who was studying in Canada for the past 18 months, living through the pandemic was terrifying. He recalled having to stay indoors for nearly four months as the North American country grapples with approximately 106,000 COVID-19 cases.
In his advice to Guyanese who fail to heed to the national emergency measures, Shawn cautioned, “safety is a big thing and you should keep safe […] Where we were it is very dangerous because simple things people come into contact with and [get infected].”
Another citizen, Lisa Thompson stated she was grateful to be home since she was slated to return nearly three and a half months ago. With optimism towards the coming weeks, Lisa added, “For the next while, it is going to be a very quiet kind of existence at home.”
“I have the seven-day mandatory quarantine that I am going to adhere to and I think even beyond that, I am lucky that I have the support [and] don’t really need to go out a lot,” Lisa added.
The NCTF has approved the controlled re-entry of nearly 1,500 Guyanese since June 6 as the country’s two main airports remain closed to international travel. Two additional flights from the USA are scheduled to arrive on July 14 and 15. Students in Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba are expected to return home as well.