PAHO Chief endorses extending curfews, lockdowns: “this is exactly what needs to happen” but Guyana says ‘no’

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 April 2021, 16:19 by Denis Chabrol

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is advising countries in the Americas to stiffen a range of measures in response to soaring COVID-19 infections and deaths, but Guyana  has so far ignored that recommendation.

PAHO’s Director Carissa Etienne in this week’s news conference hailed leaders in the Americas who have begun instituting lockdowns

“It’s no surprise, then, that many countries in our region have tightened public health measures by extending curfews, limiting reopening, and imposing new stay-at-home orders,” said Dr. Etienne on Wednesday, the same day that Guyana’s President, Dr. Irfaan Ali ruled out increasing the curfew period from the current 10:00 PM to 4 AM. “The curfew, based on all the advice I have received, and the task force would have debated and deliberated, there is no need for the adjustment of the curfew,” he said. The President said it was up to Guyanese to obey the guidelines rather than extending the curfew.

The Guyana government, in softening the measures several months ago, has already cited the need for a balance between health and economic activity.

Up to late Thursday afternoon, 295 persons in Guyana died from the viral disease since last year March when an overseas-based Guyanese woman succumbed to the disease days after returning to her homeland.

The PAHO official made it clear that a series of measures have to be adjusted because of the raging pandemic. “These decisions are never easy, but based on how infections are surging, this is exactly what needs to happen. We know these measures work, and I commend leaders across our region for putting health first,” she said.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley on Thursday announced  that most businesses and places of worship must close from midnight Thursday as more persons were being infected by the potentially deadly virus. Latest figures show that that twin-island nation has recorded 328 new cases within the past 48 hours.

Suriname and Barbados have at various times within the past few months locked down for several days, especially at weekends. Suriname has even gone as far as halting overseas travel by air and water.