Delta surge: No total border closure; priority to build capacity to treat infected patients – Health Minister


Whilst admitting with full certainty that the Delta variant is circulating in Guyana, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony ruled out the possibility of completely closing the country’s borders, noting that the government’s top priority is to build capacity to treat patients who have become infected.

During his Covid-19 update today, the Health Minister was asked whether authorities will consider a total shutdown of the country’s borders in light of the rapidly rising cases and the recent travel warning issued by the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But the Health Minister responded in the negative, noting that the arrangements currently in place will remain. In fact, he pointed out that there is already regulated movement along Guyana’s land borders with Brazil and Suriname.

“There are requirements for you to travel to Guyana from these land borders…you must produce a PCR…and you have to get vaccinated,” Dr Anthony stated.

Referring to the Guyana/Brazil border, he said “that border has been closed for a year now, and on Thursdays we allow trucks from Brazil to come across and persons who want to buy things in Guyana can buy those things and take it back to Brazil…that would continue until we see a significant reduction in cases.”

The CDC recently placed Guyana on the highest risk level, “Level Four”, warning that even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid variants.

In response, the Health Minister said: “It’s no secret we have an increase in cases, we have to continue to monitor, we have to continue to test and once we find people who are positive, to get them to isolate and those who have moderate or severe Covid and warrant hospitalisations, that we’re able to hospitalise them and treat them properly.”

“So, the CDC is going to continue to do its rating…and there are lots of countries in the Caribbean that have moved up to a Level Four and that’s because, across the region, we have seen this surge of the Delta virus,” Dr Anthony added.

But there is no confirmation that the variants are in Guyana, but the Health Minister said based on the trends, there is a strong possibility of their presence.

“From all the clinical parameters that we’re looking at, we feel very confident that we have the Delta variant that is circulating here…the transmissibility, the rate of infections, all of that is pointing to a Delta variant,” Dr Anthony posited.

“We have been talking to a few international partners to see whether or not we can confirm this with genetic sequencing but so far we have not been able to send out samples,” he noted.

“But apart from Delta, a recent meeting that I attended virtually, we know that all the different types of variants are circulating in the Caribbean, including Mu…in the Caribbean, people move quite a lot so you would expect that all the variants are going to be here,” the Health Minister added.

In this regard, he posited that the top priority of the government is to build capacity to treat Covid patients.

“While we’re work to make sure we do the sequence, right now the whole idea is to work to make sure we have enough capacity to treat those who need treatment and save those patients who will be coming into those hospitals, right now that is our priority, and of course, to get people vaccinated,” Dr Anthony explained.

There are over 4000 active Covid-19 cases in the country, with 151 in the hospitals.

To date, 350,182 adults have received a first dose vaccine while 180,922 have received both doses.

For children, 21,299 have received a first dose while 201 are fully immunised.