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United Nations calls on Guyana gov’t to impose more stringent measures to fight Coronavirus

The United Nations (UN) on Friday called on Guyana to urgently limit people’s movement to only essential errands to help prevent the spread of the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19).

UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Mikiko Tanaka cautioned Guyanese against being care-free about COVID-19 because Guyana has for weeks now recorded only five confirmed cases including one death.

“There is no room for complacency as we have seen rapid acceleration from low numbers in many countries. Prevention is critical and urgent,” she said.

One day after the Guyana governmemt signaled that it was increasingly impatient with people not heeding repeated calls not to converge in public spaces and to stay at least six feet from each other, the UN Resident Coordinator called on Guyana to tighten its grip on the movement of people.

“We are very concerned that social gatherings are continuing despite public advisories discouraging this for some time. Reinforcing the advice from PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana Dr. William Adu-Krow, the United Nations (UN) System calls on the Government to urgently introduce more stringent measures to stem COVID-19. This includes work-from-home in public and private institutions except for essential services, limiting people’s movements to essential errands,” Tanaka said.

The UN System, she said, was ready to provide advice and assistance in elaborating and implementing a national response plan that covers the health sector and other socio-economic sectors to help citizens cope with the impact of the COVID-19 response and in particular to protect the most vulnerable. “This will build on the critical ongoing support from PAHO/WHO and other UN agencies,” she said.

The UN official noted that Linden and New Amsterdam have already taken the initiative to enforce lockdown measures to limit social gathering and movements.

“Social gatherings and movements of people are the biggest risk in the spread of COVID-19,” Tanaka added.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic rages worldwide with 465,915 confirmed cases and 21,031 deaths — at an unprecedented scale and speed.

The UN official commended the health workers who are working around the clock in a high-stress and high-risk environment to respond to the outbreak.

Tanaka also cited the need to protect the physical and mental health of these health workers and to keep the caseload manageable by stemming the spread.

The UN Resident Coordinator noted that Guyana’s Ministry of Public Health and national authorities initiated preventive measures in late January starting with health and border quarantine procedures. With the confirmation of the first case on 11 March, health response capacities have been enhanced and other measures were taken including the suspension of international commercial flights, temporary closure of schools, border closures and public information and advisories for hygiene and social distancing. The private sector and religious community have started to take some voluntary measures to protect their staff and congregation and to help health workers and citizens.