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Foreign Affairs Minister COVID-19 positive; all Cabinet members to be tested -President Ali

by Samuel Sukhnandan

Hugh Todd

President Irfaan Ali on Wednesday announced that newly-appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd has tested positive for the deadly COVID-19 virus and that all members of his Cabinet would now have to be tested and work remotely.

The Guyanese Head of State said he has since advised Mr Todd to inform all individuals who he came into contact with to work with Health Minister Frank Anthony to conduct contact tracing and testing. “I have advised all cabinet members to undergo a COVID-19 test as a precautionary measure,” he said.
The President said Mr Todd informed him that he had been in contact with a COVID-19 positive person and “he decided to take the COVID-19 test which came back positive.”

Dr Ali said Cabinet would be operating remotely, even as he appealed to Guyanese to join the fight against the pandemic that has so far claimed the lives of 22 people in Guyana since the first person tested positive here in March. “I have advised ministers to work remotely until they receive results of their tests,” he said.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo earlier Wednesday cancelled a news conference that was scheduled for 2pm at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre. No reason was given, but the press corps was informed that President Ali would be making a statement which later turned out to be Minister Todd’s COVID-19 status.

President Ali being tested for COVID-19

The president said there is no issue that requires greater transparency at every level than the way Guyana addresses the COVID-19 pandemic and given his commitment to conduct the affairs of the government transparently, Dr Ali said it is for this reason he has taken the step to inform the public of this development.
He stressed that COVID-19 is a global crisis that “must be addressed frontally.” Already, the government, he said, has taken a holistic and comprehensive approach which prioritises testing, provisions of personal protection equipment and inter-agency collaboration in response to this pandemic
“I commit to doing everything necessary to ensure the safety of the Guyanese people. I want to also take this opportunity to remind all Guyanese that this pandemic has no barriers and as such, I ask you to continue to take the necessary precautions,” he added.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo being tested for the coronavirus

The president urged citizens to follow the guidelines by the Ministry of Health, wear masks especially when in public places and ensure that as far as possible to adhere to social distancing. “This is a time when all of us must come together,work together so that our country and all our citizens remain safe,’ he ended.