Over 1300 persons repatriated to Guyana – GCAA Chairman

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GCAA Chairman, (ret’d) Colonel Larry Landon

The National Covid-19 Task Force has managed to repatriate over 1,300 Guyanese back to their homeland, after being stranded overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is according to Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Commission (GCAA), retired Colonel Larry Landon, during a virtual press briefing today.

With persons coming in from North America, St. Marteen, Aruba, Trinidad and Barbados, he indicated that other flights will be facilitated in the coming weeks. On July 9, the first flight from Canada will land at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). Other flights from the United States are scheduled for July 14 and 15.

Landon sought to underscore the decision made to extend Phase One of the reopening plan, which means that the current setup will remain in place until the ending of July. After that, an assessment will be made to determine if the Second Phase should be employed.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the four-phase reopening plan for the international airports in Guyana would be postponed owing to the spike in coronavirus cases. The second phase of the plan was expected to commence on July 1.

GCAA Director General Egbert Field had noted that the Authority and the NCTF considered the health of Guyanese and the nation as top priority, thus, it was imperative to adjust the Four-Phase Reopening Plan. Under phase one, limited repatriation flights, outgoing flights, cargo flights, medivac flights, technical stops, and special authorised flights will continue to be permitted.

In light of this, no airline has been granted approval for the conduct of scheduled commercial flights.

The GCAA said it has drafted Regulations and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to guide aviation stakeholders on the measures which are expected to aid in the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19 and the full resumption of aviation-related activities. The Authority in conjunction with the Public Health Ministry and the NCTF will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation.

The first batch of stranded Guyanese was repatriated on June 6 on a flight from Miami, USA. The Eastern Airlines flight landed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehro with 109 citizens who were all sanitised and screened upon entering the airport.

Once cleared, the passengers were then placed under home quarantine for seven days with representatives of the Public Health Ministry checking on their well-being on a daily basis through visits or telephone calls.

To be granted repatriation, passengers must undergo a PCR test which must return negative. Additionally, they are required to spend one week in quarantine at home upon arriving here.

However, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud, last week scolded those Guyanese who have returned for reportedly giving health officials false information upon their arrival in the country.

“This irresponsible and selfish act is putting your life and the lives of our citizens at risk and placing undue pressure on our health workers and health system,” the CMO stated.