Georgetown, Guyana – Friday October 2, 2020 — Prime Minister, Brigadier Mark Phillips, yesterday, during a press briefing at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, launched operation COVI-CURB, an initiative by the National COVID-19 Task Force to ensure compliance with the gazetted COVID-19 emergency measures.
The Prime Minister said that the operation will be based on education, moral suasion and enforcement, and will see collaboration between the joint services, civil society, community groups and volunteers, to ensure that the public complies with the gazetted order.
“Over the next seven days, we will have over 5000 persons operating in a multi-sectoral, interagency setting, working throughout Guyana, to curb the spread of COVID-19,” Prime Minister Phillips disclosed.
He added that the adjusted curfew, now from 9:00 pm to 4:00 am, is not to cater to social activities, but to accommodate persons, whose livelihoods have been affected by the long-imposed 6:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew.
“We have not reduced or relaxed the measures for anyone to go out there and party and socialise… [we did it] so that people could conduct their activities, whether it be work, their place of business or farming, and get home to their families, and get up early in the morning to start their activities again,” Phillips explained.
He said that businesses that fail to adhere to the guidelines will be closed, if they do not comply after their first warning; adding that the government will also introduce a hotline so that the public can report non-compliant persons.
The Prime Minister iterated that since the new administration assumed office, there has been a significant increase in the country’s capacity to respond to COVID-19. These include boosting capacity for testing, securing a substantial amount of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for frontline workers and providing relief support to persons, whose livelihoods have been affected.
“When we came into office, just about 20-25 tests were being done per day. Today, 300 tests are being done per day and that will be increasing as we go along. We have a donation of one million N95 masks that is coming to Guyana very soon, thanks to the Demerara Distillers Limited and the Doobay Medical and Research Centre,” the Prime Minister revealed.
Also present at the Press Briefing were: Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony; Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy; Commissioner of Police, Nigel Hoppie; Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Godfrey Bess; and Director General of the Civil Defence Commission, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig.
The Minister of Health said that in responding to COVID-19, the government primarily considers health concerns, socio-economics and enforcement of the COVID-19 guidelines.
Concerning health, he said that the government has agreed to participate in trials for vaccination, being conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and will also benefit from COVAX, a global facility that will ensure Guyana’s access to tested and reliable vaccination, once available.
He added that the government has also ensured that local doctors have access to medication, being utilised in other parts of the word, to treat COVID-19, including drugs such as Ivermectin and Remdesivir.
Dr. Anthony also said not only has the government strengthened the capacity of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) to respond to COVID-19, but it has also expanded the capacity of all regional hospitals.
According to Minister Anthony, the government will receive 21 ventilators by October 12, which will be distributed to regional hospitals.
“We have already commenced training for the doctors at the regional hospitals, so that once these machines are in and distributed, they would be able to utilise them,” he said.
The Minister added that very shortly, the government will be adding two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines to the National Public Health Reference Laboratory, which will boost testing capacity, with regard to the processing time for DNA samples.