With airports, schools and recreational facilities closed and almost all public gatherings discontinued in order to stop the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), some businesses have taken a decision to lay off staff.
As such, the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) is looking to provide assistance to those affected workers who cannot afford to pay their utility bills.
Managing Director, Dr. Richard Van West-Charles at a press conference Thursday said persons can visit the company’s offices where they will be dealt with, depending on their situation.
He said the company is unaware of the extent of persons laid off but “certainly if the cases are presenting themselves, what the customers need to do is come in, see the managers, [we] understand the issue, we can verify and we work with you.”
The company can offer payment plans, discounts and other options to its customers who are faced with difficulties.
GWI has also discontinued its disconnection campaign countrywide and the CEO urged persons to be wary of anyone visiting their homes to do disconnections.
Guyana has confirmed five cases of the novel coronavirus since its first imported case on March 11 when a 52-year-old woman of Good Hope, East Coast Demerara (ECD) died at the Georgetown Public Hospital.
The other four cases are all relatives of the woman and they have been quarantined by the Ministry of Public Health to reduce threats of the disease spreading to other persons.
There are 45 health workers who were being monitored after coming into contact with the first victim and approximately 14 other family members.
President David Granger has signed an order to provide resources, power and funds to the Ministry of Health and Citizenship to deal with the virus.
Persons are asked to practice social distancing or rather just avoid crowds, schools have been closed for two weeks and all international flights suspended lending to a decrease in traffic and business in the city.
The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham Guyana) issued a statement calling on the private sector to support national efforts to tackle the deadly Coronavirus by making quarantine more comfortable for patients.
The Chamber suggested reduced data and phone call charges so that persons can still be in touch with their loved ones; or donations of food, formula, toiletries and cleaners for less fortunate households.
Mayor of Georgetown Ubraj Narine on Thursday also called on commercial banks to work out a plan with persons who will not be able to pay their loans in a timely manner.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Republic Bank Ltd announced that it will be lowering the interest rates on loans and giving parties the opportunity to defer loan payments.
In Guyana, Scotiabank has announced deferred payments of loans starting from next week.
The disease has spread to 168 countries, according to the World Health Organisation and is responsible for over 8,000 deaths.