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PNCR calls on Health Minister to produce detailed COVID-19 statistics

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 September 2021, 14:52 by Denis Chabrol

Dr Richard Vanwest Charles and Dr Karen Cummings

The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Wednesday punctuated its entire news conference with calls for Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony to resign, alleging that he has been mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in increasing deaths and infections.

Repeating its call for the opposition to be integrally involved in helping to manage the pandemic that has so far killed 740 persons in Guyana, the PNCR said it wanted the Ministry of Health to produce epidemiological data showing a breakdown of the prevalence of the viral disease among the race groups.

Shadow Health Minister Dr. Karen Cummings said the data should be publicly available to show a breakdown based on ethnicity, ages and locations. “It’s very scanty, it’s very vague…If you want to do any proper research, you need information and Frank (Anthony) must provide that kind of epidemiological data fir us and data informs the decisions,” he said.

The Health Minister has said that the majority of persons, who are dying from COVID-related complications have not been vaccinated are and are mostly Afro-Guyanese.

PNCR Executive Member, Dr. Richard Vanwest Charles said that in the context of a poverty rate of 35 percent, including congested squatter settlements where most Afro-Guyanese live as well as similar conditions in Amerindian communities, there needs to be special facilities to house COVID infected persons. “It would seem to me in those communities, you really need to have quarantine centres where people, who are infected, do not go back to those homes because you continue the spread,” he said.

If the Health Minister does not heed the PNCR’s call to resign,  Dr Vanwest  Charles said “political action” would be taken but he did not specify.

The PNCR wants free PCR testing sites to be provided countrywide for ordinary citizens and health care workers, improve the conditions at the Ocean View Infectious Disease Hospital and conduct gene sequencing to determine the COVID-19 variant that is in Guyana.

Dr Cummings said if Dr Anthony could either “step up or step aside”, and Dr Vanwest Charles said that the call for the Health Minister was not mere politicking but a call by an important national stakeholder. “This is about the protection of all Guyanese. That’s why the Central Executive mandated this conference to begin to look at this issue as a serious matter for the protection of all Guyanese, for the economic protection of our country and that is why this call here today is significant,” said Dr Vanwest Charles, a former Health Minister under the PNC’s Forbes Burnham-led administration.