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President issues wide-ranging anti-coronavirus orders to destroy property, curtail movement of people, spend emergency funds

David Granger

President David Granger has issued sweeping powers that may include the destruction of personal property, compulsory hospitalisation, and the spending of monies from the Consolidated Fund to fight the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

He said his directive remains in force until he withdraws it.

Citing provisions in the Guyana Constitution to guarantee free public health care and the deprivation of people’s personal liberty and freedom of movement or residence in Guyana in keeping with the law to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, the President directed that the virus is an infectious disease that requires the Minister of Public Health to restrain, segregate and isolate persons suffering from the disease or, maybe, likely from exposure to the disease.

Further the Public Health Minister is directed by President Granger to take steps to diagnose, prevent or check the disease including the prohibition or restriction of movement of persons and public and private conveyances of any kind whatsoever within and to and from an infected area.

The Health Minister has also been authorised to ask the Guyana Police Force for help in enforcing the President’s directives.

The Public Health Minister is also directed to remove to the hospital and provide curative treatment of persons suffering from the disease. In that regard, the Health Minister is tasked with providing one or more hospitals or camps for the reception, isolation and treatment of persons suffering from Covid-19.

In the Official Gazette publication dated 16th March, 2020, Minister Volda Lawrence is also empowered by the President to remove, disinfect and destroy the personal effects, goods, buildings and any other article, material or thing exposed to infection from the disease.

She is also required to facilitate speed burial or cremation of the dead, facilitate house-to-house visits and inspections, promote cleanliness, ventilation and disinfection.

The Public Health Minister is also required to take steps to prevent the spread of the disease on the seas, rivers and waters of Guyana and on the high seas within 12 miles of the baseline as well as on land.

The Minister of Education and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration have have been directed by the President to control and prevent the spread of Covid-19 in all educational institutions and in accordance with relevant immigration laws. The Ministry of Education has already ordered the closure of all schools and lesson places from March 16 to 27, and all public schools are being sprayed.

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has also closed the country’s two international airports, except for medical evacuations, emergency landing and refuelling.

The President has also directed the Minister of Finance to spend “such sums of money as may be necessary” from the Consolidated Fund in carrying out the various directives by the Ministers of Public Health, Education, and Citizenship and Immigration as well as the police.

The President added that, all government agencies and local government authorities are urged to render assistance and cooperation to undertake critical, urgent and appropriate response and measures in a timely manner to curtail and eliminate the Covid-19 threat.

He also asked all citizens, residents, tourists and members of the private sector to obey lawful directives and advisories issued by appropriate government agencies to prevent further transmission of the coronavirus and ensure the safety and well-being of all.