GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Guyana government Monday defended its decision to extend coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine requirements for the public access to privately-owned facilities, saying it is being driven by the need to ensure public safety.
“So, it is one way of ensuring that the environments in the public are much safer because if you have vaccinated people then the chances are we’ll have a much safer environment when we visit those places,” Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony said during the COVID-19 update.
Business establishments in Guyana Monday began implementing new measures outlined by the government, including that anyone entering public buildings as well as private businesses and places of worship be vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test result.
But the opposition has instead called on the government to convene a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss what it described as the “authoritarian” measures and a way forward.
The opposition said it is urging the government to immediately rescind the measure which it sees as “unconstitutional” and immediately engage in an emergency stakeholders forum to chart a “prudent and responsible” national COVID-19 management plan.
“We call on the PPP (People’s Progressive Party) to take note of the decision of the Prime Minister of Jamaica, who has engaged the Leader of the Opposition there to meet on the issue of the rampant spread of COVID in that country. We call on the PPP to follow suit post haste.
“The PPP must immediately cease and desist from the wild and reckless approach it has adopted which only benefits its acolytes and financiers and leaves the people of the nation isolated, locked out, and vulnerable”, the opposition coalition, A partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) statement said.
The government in its September 4, 2021 gazetted COVID-19 Order# 193/2021 noted also that where a person is unvaccinated, an appointment will be necessary and that the person must present a negative molecular PCR test taken within seven days of the appointment.
It said also that only negative molecular biological PCR test results from a laboratory approved by the Ministry of Health will be accepted.
Republic Bank (Guyana) says it is enforcing the new measures, while the Giftland Group said that it is planning to adjust to the new restrictions that will take effect on Thursday.
The Health Minister told reporters that the new measure is not only for the people who are accessing the services, but it’s also for the people who are working there.
“Because we have to create the safe environment if we are going to push back against the COVID-19 disease,” he added.
The measure had previously applied only to state buildings and Dr. Anthony told reporters that over the past 24 hours the country had recorded 101 new COVID-19 cases from 1,948 tests done. He said there were also 2200 active cases, including 122 persons in hospitals, and 100 at the Liliendaal Infectious Disease Hospital, where 38 persons are in intensive care.
“So, again, what this is saying to us is that we have to be more cautious. Most of the people who are in the hospital right now, almost 99 per cent of them are unvaccinated. Most of them who are in the ICU are also unvaccinated,” the Health Minister said, as he appealed once more for persons to get vaccinated to protect themselves from severe illness and hospitalization.
Dr. Anthony said that to date 320,747 persons, or 62.5 per cent of the eligible adult population, have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 168,201 of them or 32.8 per cent have received the required two doses.
He told reporters that under the vaccination drive to inoculate children who are 12 and over, a total of 9,998 children have been vaccinated.