Coronavirus: Guyanese pleading with health authorities for daily updates


Guyanese have taken to social media to vent their frustration about what they say is the lack of timely information from the Ministry of Public Health on the deadly new Coronavirus.

With Guyana having confirmed five cases with one death, the Ministry has only held two press conferences to address the pandemic – March 11 and March 17.

With other CARICOM countries including Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago providing steady updates, Guyanese feel the local Public Health authorities are lacking.

Dhanash Ramroop, a former journalist, posted on his Facebook Monday that “the Ministry of Public Health releasing information on only confirmed cases is NOT enough. We need to know how many people are being monitored; from what areas, how many test kits there are, what are the protocols for one to be tested, how many have been tested so far and what the hell is happening to the five confirmed cases.

“But instead, we’ve our Health Minister throwing “shade” on her Facebook profile. Enough is not being done. People are still ignoring the seriousness of the issue because the information isn’t being provided and it will continue as it is until the death toll starts to increase exponentially.”

Another Facebook user noted that the Ministry has failed miserably to answer the questions which exist in the minds of the population.

“We need to hear from the right people. In the absence of information rumours will spread,” one woman commented as she pointed out that since the death of the first patient who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 11, no updates were provided on the 45 health practitioners who are being monitored.

Another young man, who has been providing information on his social media, pointed out that while persons are being asked to stay indoors, it is difficult for low-income households who still need to be able to provide for themselves. He added that many cannot afford hand sanitisers, Lysol and other items needed to tackle the disease.

“We have a housing problem in this country and some homes are well beyond the occupancy limit as the extended family has been one of the most effective measures for surviving poverty in the Guyanese context. I am grateful there are efforts to make sanitisers more readily available but some of these items now considered “essential” for battling coronavirus were never part of the basic basket of goods for low-income households,” the social media user noted.

The majority of the population have been relying on the World Health Organization’s website for information.

The Ministry of Education has closed schools since March 16 and it is now extended to April 20 when the new school term commences. The University of Guyana also remains closed.

While in other countries, the closure of school has seen the implementation of online classes, reliable internet connection and the availability of gadgets to each student in the public education system has stymied such moves in Guyana.

One teacher commented that “many students and teachers don’t have the resources and ‘skills’ to work on online platforms like other countries. We are still struggling to manage classes of 40+ students with one blackboard. I hope that we can work towards achieving these advancements when all of this is over.”

Guyana has recorded five confirmed cases thus far but some Guyanese believe there may be more and are calling for a breakdown in the number of tests done, persons being monitored and inconclusive results.

Health authorities have been able to contact an estimated 70 persons who may have come into contact with the first victim who died at the Georgetown Hospital after travelling from Queens, New York.

These persons include those who were on the same flight, as well as taxi drivers and relatives and friends.

In addition, authorities are monitoring an estimated 45 public and private health care workers. So far, approximately 18 family members are under close surveillance including the four which were tested positive.

It was pointed out that the State broadcaster –the National Communications Network –has been hosting daily programmes about the symptoms and preventions for the COVID-19.

These are also live-streamed on Facebook.

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