Govt shuts down mining, blocks movement in parts of Regions 1 and 7 as COVID-19 cases rise

Last Updated on Friday, 3 July 2020, 17:39 by Denis Chabrol

In the wake of a steep rise in coronavirus cases in Region One (Barima-Waini) and Region Seven, government has shut off several mining sites, residential areas and businesses.

“All mining operations shall cease,” the amended order states.

The new measures come as the Public Health Ministry says that to date, there are 78 cases in Region One and 36 in Region 7. There are thousands of COVID-19 cases, including deaths, in economically and socially collapsed Venezuela as well as neighbouring Brazil where President Jair Bolsonaro continues to describe the virus as a little flu.

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association has said the spike in COVID-19 cases has very little to do with miners but with other workers at landings where miners dwell as well as movement of people across Guyana’s porous borders.

Through an amended gazetted order, “no person shall travel into or out of” Moruca in Region One and Aranka/Arangoy in Region Seven from July 6 to August 3, 2020 without the authorisation of the Minister of Public Health.

Government has called out police and soldiers to “ensure the security of entry and exit points of  the areas” in Moruca and Aranka/ Arangoy. The Miners Association has called on government to seal off the borders and dismantle illegal shops where people gather in violation of the orders.

The Joint Services have also been tasked with securing materials and goods and services  of those sites and screening and test check-points as well as provide escort for mobile teams.

Government says people might by compulsorily tested for COVID-19 and if positive they will be placed in “controlled isolation.” Further, the order requires businesses to report to the Public Health Ministry anyone with flu-like symptoms. “Persons with flu-like symptoms or reporting symptoms are not permitted to go to work or if they are at work are not permitted to remain at work or enter the business premises  and that the Ministry of Public Health is informed of he persons who have those symptoms,” the order states.

The Regional Councils have been instructed to sanitise buildings , landings and means of transportation.  Businesses places in those regions must set up hand-washing or sanitising stations, and all workstations and equipment must be sanitised, according to the order.