Health Minister says new COVID-19 measures aimed at safeguarding livelihoods

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Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony

The Government’s move to reduce the curfew hours is in recognition of the socio-economic impact the measure was having on businesses and people.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony made the disclosure to DPI on Thursday. The curfew hours are now 9pm – 4am and runs until October 31, 2020. The previous curfew covered 6pm – 6am.

“We have received complaints from truckers who would go up for sand and other things. Generally, they would come out early, get on the road, and start their distribution but because of the measures they couldn’t start that until 6am and that caused an even greater traffic congestion in the mornings,” Minister Anthony explained.

He added many people found it hard to comply with a 6pm curfew since at that time they would still be making their way home from work. Dr. Anthony also referred to a United Nations survey of Caribbean countries, including Guyana, which cited the COVID-19 measures as significant disruptors of people’s livelihoods.

“What we have found is that disposable income has been drastically reduced. A lot of people have lost their jobs, a lot of people are not getting full employment, food stock in people’s homes have been drastically reduced.”

Meanwhile, Guyana’s international airports have been closed to commercial flights since March as part of measures to stem the spread of COVID-19. The Government on Wednesday announced that the restriction will run until October 11. As such, new and stricter guidelines will be in place to prevent COVID-19 importation.

“In addition to the requirement that someone coming must have a negative PCR test result, when they arrive in Guyana, if that PCR test result is older than 72 hours, it would mean that they have to get a second one at the airport … That person will not leave the airport until that sample is processed and they will get back those results same day.”

It was noted that the Ministry already has a plan to have staff in place at the airport to conduct the tests in a timely manner. The airport management will put in place accommodation and other systems needed to cater for travellers as they await the results.

The Minister said the PPP/C administration’s plan was to adopt a more targeted response which saw personnel being trained, more tests being done, and more protective equipment and treatment protocols being made available, in partnership with the private sector and international agencies. (DPI)