GEORGETOWN, Guyana, April 21, 2020 (CMC) – The National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) announced, it has agreed to relax the stringent measures for persons entering Guyana, so as to allow officials of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) team to participate in the re-count of ballots, from the March 2 general election.
In a statement, issued here, last night, the NCTF said that it had agreed for the CARICOM officials to undergo the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for COVID-19 in their home country, instead of being subjected to 14 days of quarantine.
The NCTF had earlier decided that persons, who arrived here, during the lockdown period, as a result of the country’s efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus, would have faced a 14-day quarantine. But the decision came in for criticism from some Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and some of the political parties that had contested the disputed elections.
But following the intervention of President David Granger, the NCTF said the mandatory quarantine of the persons for 14 days will no longer be applicable.
Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, who heads the COVID-19 Task Force, has written to the GECOM Chairperson, retired justice Claudette Singh, and the CARICOM Secretary-General, Irwin LaRocque, informing them of the decisions of the NCTF.
Nagamootoo had, on Sunday, indicated that the Task Force had decided that the recount must be conducted within the COVID-19 curfew hours, and that international observers coming to the country must submit themselves to a 14-day quarantine, at a government-run institution. But these decisions were reversed on Monday.
LaRocque had earlier written to Granger, urging that medical examinations for members of the delegation to be done in their countries of origin, before their arrival in Guyana.
In the statement, NCTF said “the CARICOM officials, identified to participate in the recount of ballots, be permitted to undergo WHO-approved reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for COVID-19 in their respective home countries, prior to arrival in Guyana, and they will be permitted entry on the basis that such test results are negative”.
The Task Force said if any official is unable to have such a test conducted in their home country, that upon their arrival in Guyana, the Ministry of Public Health will facilitate the test, here, on condition that the official self-quarantines for a maximum of 48 hours while the test results are being ascertained.
As such, quarantining of the incoming officials for the mandatory period of 14 days will not be applicable upon compliance with either of the established requirements, the NCTF said.
“Having been reviewed, and the interest of public health safety being considered, the NCTF accordingly varied the decision taken previously on this issue,” the statement added.
Last weekend, the GECOM Chair advised that for the national recount of votes, there will be ‘no more than 10 workstations” and that the recount process will commence “in the shortest possible time”.
Singh has also responded to alleged threats on her life, saying that she is “not afraid”.
“There is a bounty on my head from Friday night. I am not afraid, because death is inevitable, and I believe in God,” Justice Singh told the media, yesterday.