51 persons hospitalised with COVID-19; Joint Services to increase enforcement

A total of 51 persons are hospitalised with COVID-19 according to Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony who on Monday said this number will increase once persons continue to openly disregard the rules in place to curb the spread of the disease.

During a virtual press conference, the Minister said the 51 persons are at the Infectious Disease Hospital at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara (ECD) and the West Demerara Regional Hospital while over 850 persons are on home isolation.

“Over the last three weeks, we have seen increasing amounts of cases especially in Region Four and in Region Three and this is quite worrying but we have also noticed there are events where people will go to and are not wearing their masks, the seawall is a typical example where people would go and gather [without their masks] and they have a good time,” Dr. Anthony said.

The Minister said the Joint Services have been instructed at a meeting with the COVID-19 Taskforce on Monday to heighten their enforcement of the COVID-19 rules. He also promised stiffer penalties for defaulting businesses.

“I think people have dropped their guard a little bit and they think COVID is over. COVID is not over…we are going to be more stringent using the Joint Services and we are going to enforce these guidelines. You will see more people being charged for not wearing masks and those businesses that are not complying with the guidelines, they will see stiffer penalties coming their way,” he outlined.

Dr. Anthony noted that more attention will be paid to public transportation which seems to be a concern. He pointed out that the country’s vaccination programme is not at a level where the Government can speedily minimise the amount of severe infections.

The Ministry of Health in February commenced its countrywide Vaccination programme using the AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) starting with healthcare workers before moving to the elderly population.

The Health Minister said the country is in possession of vaccination for 50,000 persons of which 12,000 are in the public and private healthcare system while the elderly population is approximately at 59,000.

Starting from next week, he disclosed that the Government will get 200,000 doses of the Sputnik vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

This will be shipped to Guyana in tranches of 50,000 which will be administered to other frontline workers and at-risk population. The Ministry is also looking to immunize teachers before it reopen schools across the country.

Prior to approval for the vaccines to be administered, the Government began talks with COVAX –led by  the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) –but through written correspondence, that body has been steadily reducing its promised doses to Guyana.

On Monday, COVAX reported that Guyana will receive 24,000 doses of vaccines within the next three weeks.