Strict COVID-19 measures for incoming passengers when airports fully reopen – Health Minister

Guyanese returning home after being stranded overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [CJIA photo]
A passenger being disinfected upon arrival at CJIA

The Guyana Government intends to implement strict health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when the country’s airports are fully reopened to commercial traffic.

This is according to Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony, who indicated that although persons coming to Guyana would have done a test at their place of origin, they would still be required to undergo another test upon their arrival here.

He said the health authorities here are hoping to develop the capacity to conduct testing at the airport, and provide passengers with their results within two to three hours, before they are released into the public.

Dr Anthony was quick to point out, though, that even if the passenger is tested negative, he or she is still required to self-quarantine at home for a period of no less than seven days.

According to the Health Minister, because of the way the disease operates, somebody can test negative now, and that person can develop the disease a couple of days later. He explained that PCR test is sensitive to the amount of virus in one’s body.

“So, if you just got exposed and just got infected, you might not have enough virus in your body for the test to detect. So, (from) the point of exposure to the time of detection generally, the experts advise that at least we look at about five days, and around the fourth or fifth day after that exposure, that is the best time when you have adequate viral loads for the test to work properly. So even if we (tested) you at the airport, we would still want you to be in self-quarantine for the next seven days,” Dr Anthony explained.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister added that Guyanese who are stuck overseas and want to return home can still do so, provided that they have a negative COVID-19 test result within the last five days. He detailed that an application would have to be made, and once approval is granted, the person can go ahead and purchase their travel ticket etc.

Due to the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Guyana, the Government, once again on Monday, extended the closure of the country’s international airports until September 30.

Previously, scheduled international flights to Guyana had been continuously suspended since March 18. The most recent gazetted order, however, explained that limited repatriation flights, outgoing flights, cargo flights, medivac flights, technical stops, and special authorised flights would continue to operate.