COVID-19: Strict screening measures for returning Guyanese

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A few days after the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) granted approval for a number of stranded Guyanese to be repatriated, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has indicated that they will do so in a phased manner.

Over 300 persons have indicated their wish to return after being unable to do so when international borders closed. The Ministry stated that to control the spread of the virus, there are a few steps which will be undertaken before and after entering these shores.

“You are required to plan your return in coordination with and on approval from the Government of Guyana. This will enable control of the spread of COVID-19 in Guyana and protect the health and safety of all citizens dwelling there, particularly those who are most vulnerable. Further, in the interest of public health and safety, approvals for re-entry will be phased in a manner deemed appropriate by the Ministry of Public Health, as the designated quarantine authority, and other key Government entities,” the Ministry informed.

To be accepted onto one of the incoming flights, Guyanese nationals must complete the application for entry form. This form can be found on the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s website as well as on those of Guyana’s overseas missions — embassies, consulates general and honorary consulates. Subsequently, an e-mail confirming receipt of application would be issued followed by confirmation of the intended date of travel.

The Ministry cautioned that these persons should expect the precautionary procedures which will greet them in Guyana.

It stated, “Guyanese nationals should expect to be screened and possibly tested for the novel coronavirus on return to Guyana. This is a condition of return and will be undertaken at the point of entry. It is anticipated that all persons entering Guyana will need to exercise patience as social distancing and health and safety protocols will be observed.”

After mounting calls and accusations of leaving its people stranded, the Task Force decided to allow 19 Guyanese students from the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and 70 Guyanese cruise ship workers attached to Royal Caribbean to return home.

In addition, the Task Force approved applications from four Guyanese in St Vincent to return home via SVG Air. Applications from 10 Guyanese in St Maarten to return were also approved.

However, the Task Force took pains to warn that any person who tests positive for COVID-19 will not be permitted entry into Guyana and that all arriving passengers must undergo the PCR testing.

“The approvals are subject to the satisfaction of all requirements of the Ministry of Public Health and other relevant Ministries and agencies, and the cost of return being covered by the applicants. All approvals are subject to: All requirements of the Ministry of Public Health and other relevant Ministries and agencies being fulfilled. Results of COVID-19 tests being provided 48 hours in advance of arrival.”

They warned that if a pre-test is not available, prior written consent is required from each arriving passenger for quarantine if deemed necessary by the Public Health Ministry. They also emphasised that the applicants or their employers have to bear all costs for their return.