If you want to stop wearing masks, then get vaccinated – Health Minister

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Amid reports that Americans who are fully vaccinated can stop wearing masks, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony indicated that the same can happen in Guyana if a larger percentage of the population becomes completely immunised against Covid-19.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that fully vaccinated adults can safely resume activities indoors or outdoors without masks or distancing, in gatherings large or small.

US reports also indicated that the federal mask requirement on public transportation remains in force for everyone, vaccinated or not – including on buses, trains, airplanes and in stations and airports.

However, under the new guidance fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel without needing to get tested before or after, and they do not need to self-quarantine. They also do not need to quarantine following a known exposure so long as they are asymptomatic. The CDC says masks may still be required by state, local, tribal or territorial laws as well as businesses and workplaces. But some local jurisdictions swiftly announced they would update their own regulations to conform with the CDC guidance.

Commenting on this development during today’s Covid-19 update, the Health Minister highlighted that “their situation is different from ours”.

Notwithstanding, he admitted that authorities can relax some of the existing Covid-19 measures if more persons in Guyana get inoculated.

“If everybody come forward and get their vaccines, then we can also be in a position where we can relax some of the things like masking and social distancing and so forth,” Dr Anthony explained.

“But until we are able to achieve that level of vaccination, we would not be able to remove these protocols. So, if you want to stop wearing masks, then encourage everyone you know to come and get the vaccine. And the faster we immunise the population, the faster we can return to normalcy,” he added.

Some 163,534 persons have received their first dose of the vaccine, representing some 33.6% of the adult population here. Additionally, 21,203 persons are fully immunised; this represents 4.4% of the adult population.

Dr Anthony is encouraging persons who received their first dose of the vaccine to ensure they return for their second shot.

Currently, there are over 1800 active Covid-19 cases in the country, of which 83 are hospitalised.