Last Updated on Thursday, 25 March 2021, 7:39 by Writer
President Irfaan Ali on Wednesday announced that Guyana hopes to vaccinate 10,000 persons daily, reduce the age of eligible persons to 40 years and older, and intensify enforcement of the COVID-19 measures.
Dr. Ali said “early in the new week” the vaccination programme would be expanded to all persons 40 years and older. Up to now, those eligible are 60 years and older and frontline workers.
“The government of Guyana is aggressively pursuing a strategy to vaccinate as many Guyanese as would be necessary to attain herd immunity and eventually ensuring all Guyanese are vaccinated,” he said in a brief address to the nation.
The President’s announcement comes as there continues to be a steep rise in the number of positive cases in recent days and the death toll, now at 221, appears to be rising everyday. The Health Ministry on Wednesday recorded 88 new cases, and the number of active cases include 900 isolated at home and 56 hospitalised, and 12 in the COVID intensive care unit.
The Guyanese leader made no mention of the likely impact of India’s temporary halt of the exportation of the AstraZeneca vaccines in order to satisfy local demand, but he reiterated that 200,000 vaccines would be imported. He said government was exploring the possibility of purchasing another 200,000 vaccines to help fast-track Guyana achieving herd immunity “in the shortest possible timeframe.”
The President said the private sector would be assisting in the storage of the jabs. “In order to store and manage the vaccines and execute the task, the Ministry of Health has engaged various private sector players with capacity to assist,” he said.
Dr. Ali said the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Medical Corps, medical and nursing students were being called out to fast-track the vaccination programme. “These personnel will be trained in the documentation of citizens so as to expedite the vaccination process,” he added. He said the integrated approach to vaccination would include cabinet oversight, local government bodies, and civil society. The President said 400 GDF officers would assist with the registration process and the medical and nursing students, as well as volunteers, would be vaccinated to limit their exposure to the deadly virus.
The President said the COVID-19 Task Force has stepped up its enforcement of the measures “to bring [about a] more effective compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines.”
He said already an expanded joint operation of immigration, the army, police, regional COVID-19 Task Force Committees, the private sector and other members of civil society has been engaged in further securing Guyana’s borders. “The COVID-19 Task Force has been advised to pursue charges against owners of establishments that are found in breach of the COVID-19 guidelines,” he said.
With Phagwah, Easter and Ramadan to be observed in the coming days, Dr. Ali appealed to religious leaders and citizens to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 guidelines.