COVID-19 could have serious implications on Guyana – Dr Irfaan Ali


In a proactive step to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, People’s Progressive Party’s presidential candidate Dr Irfaan Ali on Saturday unveiled a Committee that will be a part of a national stakeholder body that seeks to address the issue in a holistic manner.

Speaking at a press briefing at the party’s headquarters on Robb Street, Ali asserted that the spread of the disease in Guyana could have serious implications on the country.

Guyana recorded eight confirmed cases, as of March 28, with one death.

The Committee, he outlined, will bring together human, financial and material resources to tackle the virus, which has wrecked several developed countries, head-on.

At the forefront of the Committee are former Health Ministers Gail Teixeira and Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, Dr. Frank Anthony, Dr. Vindhya Persaud and Hugh Todd.

“Many Guyanese today are without peace of mind; they’re worried. They’re worried about their welfare, they’re worried about institutions, they’re worried about their communities. People generally are worried, not only because of the existing political situation, but that with COVID-19 is a perfect time bomb if you want to put it that way.

“For us COVID-19 is much more than a public health issue, it is much more than a health issue; it has social, political, economic and financial implications. So as we address the issue of COVID-19, we must have a multi-faceted forum that can deal with the immediate, medium and long-term impact of COVID-19.”

Dr Ali revealed that a comprehensive plan has put been together, touching critical areas and sectors that would be directly and indirectly affected by the coronavirus. The idea is to mitigate the impact COVID-19 would have on these key stakeholders of the country.

“For example, we have to look at social relief measures to deal with the vulnerable in our society- pensioners, salary and non-salary workers, workers that would be displaced, workers that would be affected directly or indirectly, workers that may have tested positive. How do we support those workers and their families?”

“Access to data is an important part of managing this issue. The medical insurance for frontline health workers and their families because they are exposed. How do we ensure that they have some safeguard?”

He added, “Accessibility to food, tax relief measures to help businesses and workers to ensure there is money in people’s pockets to survive this difficult period and circumstances, not only in the medium and immediate, but in the long-term. Economic relief, utilities, food, fuel, financial relief for individuals and businesses, risk allowances for health care workers and stimulus for the economy in the immediate, medium and long-term, these are things that are outside the public health sphere of management and the health management that we also have to deal with.”

In a concerted effort to match data and theories on COVID-19 with the reality of what is needed to curb the spread in Guyana, Dr Ali said the Committee will work over the next 72 hours to get a “full handle” of the situation.

A stakeholder meeting will be summoned by Teixeira to deliberate on a common approach.

“By Monday evening, once we have the quick response that is necessary in getting those data, you can have a further update from the team as we put together our thoughts in addressing this issue and becoming victorious over this issue, together. We have to do this together; this is a national issue, all of us must be involved in it.”

“This is not to alarm the population, but this is to let the population be assured that you have leadership that is ready to act responsibly, that is ready to embrace all of Guyana as we push forward in overcoming this challenge we have at this moment.”

As of Saturday evening, there have been over 600,000 confirmed cases globally and over 30,000 deaths. A total of 202 countries have been affected by COVID-19, with Italy and the United States of America being the hardest hit, topping over 85,000 cases, and surpassing China where the virus was first detected in December 2019.

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