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Guyana ramping up vaccination, amid new, deadlier COVID-19 surge striking young, healthy persons

Last Updated on Friday, 2 April 2021, 17:28 by Denis Chabrol

The Health Ministry on Friday warned this surge in COVID-19 is “deadlier”,  spreading faster and striking young people with no existing illnesses, even as the plans are being rolled out to establish  about 100 vaccinations sites countrywide.

The ministry said the rollout will ramp up from Tuesday April 6 at the almost 100 fixed-sites around the country. Authorities say there will also be mobile teams in all 10 regions. In addition to these sites, there are special sites. Among these are special sites organized through a collaboration between religious leaders.

The Central Islamic Organisation (CIOG) was credited by the Health Ministry as a leading player in this initiative. Government said Banks DIH has organized a site that will be activated this week. These efforts assist the MOH in mobilization and we encourage others to help mobilize our sisters and brothers in a similar way.

The Health Ministry urged Guyanese , who are 40 years and older to ensure they visit one of the sites that will operate from Tuesday, April 6. These sites are published on the Health Ministry’s website.

“Most worrisome, COVID-19 is now affecting younger people, and causing severe illnesses in persons, not only younger, but with no co-morbidities. COVID-19 is more dangerous now than at any time before,” the Health Ministry said. The Health Ministry said 71 new cases were recorded Friday, in addition to two more deaths that have pushed the total number of lives lost in Guyana to the viral disease to 237. Doctors have ordered 916 persons to isolate themselves at home and of the 71 hospitalised , 13 are in the Intensive Care Unit.

The warning was issued hours after Guyana received another consignment of vaccines, this time 25,000 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik-V jab. “Make no mistake, COVID-19 transmission is very active in Guyana right now. Every time one leaves home, you are at risk. Like in other countries, COVID-19 is also showing, during this new surge, that it spreads faster and it has become deadlier,” the Health Ministry said.

Faced with the global shortage of vaccines, government said President Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo were working feverishly to purchase vaccines legally.

The Health Ministry appealed to politicians, local government bodies, such as the neighbourhood councils, and religious leaders to endorse the vaccination drive that has seen 39,831 doses so far having been administered.

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon this week urged Guyanese to take the vaccines and if necessary first check with their doctors.

Government hopes to vaccinate 40,000 vaccinated by April 10  with the ultimate figure being 80,000 Guyanese who would receive their first dose. “This is an incredible achievement in an environment where developing countries have had little to no access to COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.

The Health Ministry said COVID-19 was still showing a “strong presence” in Guyana where there is another surge like many other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Make no mistake, COVID-19 transmission is very active in Guyana right now. Every time one leaves home, you are at risk. Like in other countries, COVID-19 is also showing, during this new surge, that it spreads faster and it has become deadlier,” the ministry added.

The Ministry insisted that people obey the public health guidelines and those who must leave their homes must wear masks when in a public place including travelling in public transportation. Guyanese are also being urged to avoid large crowds and gatherings, stay their distance and ensure regular washing and sanitisation of hands.

With the arrival of of the 25,000 doses of Sputnik-V vaccines on Friday, Guyana has now received a total of 152,000 doses of vaccines.

The Health Ministry said that Guyana has a total of 147,000 doses of vaccines for the immediate rollout across Guyana to vaccinate 86,000 persons with first doses and 61,000 of these persons with both their first and second doses. “This is a massive undertaking, but the rollout so far has demonstrated that Guyana can and will succeed in vaccinating all persons aged 18 and older,” the Health Ministry said.

The Health  Ministry also refuted several myths about the vaccines, essentially saying that they are all lies and Guyanese should be responsible by not peddling such conspiracy theories.  “The vaccines do not have any computer chip to steal anyone’s identity. The vaccines are intended to save people, not to kill them. The vaccines will not turn anyone into any kind of animal,” the ministry added.