Guyanese returning from overseas must be vaccinated to enter Guyana – Health Minister

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Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony explained on Tuesday that Guyanese who are returning home from overseas must be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus to enter the country.

“The gazetted orders that were put out by the Civil Aviation Authority clearly states that for someone coming back to Guyana, they would have to get a negative PCR and in addition to a negative PCR, they would be required to have been vaccinated,” the Health Minister explained.

He said vaccination means having at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

“This applies to all travellers coming back to Guyana,” the Health Minister said, noting that there are a few exemptions.

For instance, he said persons below the age of 18 will not be required to be vaccinated. Additionally, he said women who are pregnant must show proof of pregnancy and they too can be exempted from being vaccinated to enter Guyana.

Moreover, the Health Minister said the Covid-19 Task Force can examine situations on a case-by-case basis.

“There might be other citizens who, for one reason or the other, who would have travelled abroad and because these requirements are now in place…and they are now required to travel back and they might not have the vaccine. In those circumstances, they can apply to the Task Force ahead of time, and each case will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis,” Dr Anthony said.

Currently, airlines are not allowing unvaccinated persons to board planes heading to Guyana.

“With the negative PCR, if you don’t have it, they won’t allow you on the aircraft. And similarly, now that there’s this additional requirement of getting your vaccine, if you don’t have it, you will not be allowed on,” the Health Minister said.

A person is considered vaccinated if they had received at least one dose of either the AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Sinopharm, Sinovac-Corona, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson jabs.

Current travel requirements call for Guyana to accept a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. As at August 8, a decision has been taken that persons must be vaccinated as well.

At the level of Caricom, it has recently been decided that persons within the region be allowed to travel freely, regardless of which vaccine they had been administered. Only Trinidad and Tobago has opposed this position.

Guyana also has specific measures installed against Trinidadians, detailing that persons must be fully immunised if they are entering the country from that twin-island republic.

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill explained that this new measure is intended To control infections stemming from Covid-19 and its variants.

He told reporters on Monday that “It is costing millions, and what we have is a lot of antivaxxers who reside in North America, who want to use the regulations that are now in place to satisfy their vacationing in Guyana without having to be vaccinated, making noises that they’re not foreigners, they’re Guyanese.”

When asked about those persons who would have left Guyana unvaccinated for business or other purposes and are now returning home, the Minister explained that “A short trip, the Port Health will deal with that, and the Port Health has been advised. If before the regulations came into place a businessman went to Miami for shopping and he wasn’t vaccinated, when he arrives here, the Port Health will deal with that.”