On Tuesday March 31, 2020, the National COVID-19 Stakeholders’ Response Forum launched two campaigns- “stay at home/self-isolation” and “everyone wear a mask”. This Forum which was started on March 28th by Presidential candidate Irfaan Ali established 4 sub-committees focusing on information, education and awareness; health and medical issues; resource mobilization and logistics, and, social, economic and financial measures.
A Facebook account was launched on March 29th, 2020 Doctorsonline24hours on COVID-19 which continues to attract hundreds of people seeking advice.
Due to the pressure of time, we are grateful to Ram and McRae’s for their offer to manage our donations and accounts. Those persons/companies who are willing to donate to the “wear mask campaign” and to acquire much need Personal Protection Equipment ( PPE) for health practitioners please send to:-
Name of bank: Republic Bank
Account name: Ram & McRae – client account
Account Number: 96235654299
Persons making deposits should retain a receipt and send it by WhatsApp or email it to email@example.com as soon as possible after the deposit is made.
We also purchased, and, received some donations, of 100% cotton fabric, that has been distributed to community sewing initiatives in Regions # 1, 2, 4 and Georgetown, 5, 7 ( part of), Region 8 ( part of ), 9 and 10 as well as to many individuals volunteering and the Guyana Prisons Service.
There were difficulties of reaching into some interior areas due to the cessation of scheduled flights, speed boat and ferry services such as in Regions # 1, 2 and 9. Despite these logistical challenges, we have been able to overcome them even though it slowed down materials getting into these areas as fast as we would have liked.
Individuals and communities in Region 3, under Irfaan Ali’s initiative, have been mobilized and have produced several thousand masks already.
Mr. Ali started distribution 2,500 over the weekend to Vreed-en-Hoop market and car park, and Canals polder, and Tiger Bay. This region is well organized and mobilized and will continue to distribute as masks are sewn.
Region 6 is coming on board also by tomorrow [Monday]. The balance of the materials for Region 7 and 8 are also being sent in. By these efforts alone about 27, 000 masks will be sewn in a week’s time.
As we obtain more donations and buy more fabric we shall continue to distribute to communities and sew masks.
We also want to acknowledge and thank the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, the Muslim Youth Organization and the RC Church who are also contributing using their broad networks to also sew masks under the “everyone wear mask” /MaskUpGuyana campaign.
The Forum is heartened by the fact that many small non-governmental organizations have contacted us and joined the campaign and on their own they are mobilized to make their own contribution.
We are pleased to learn that Rotary International is globally supporting the mask campaign and will be assisting the Rotary Guyana initiative of making masks.
This campaign can grow even faster if each of the 80 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils make 1000 masks with the resources they have available in their revenue.
These measures, we emphasize, do not replace social distancing of 6 feet apart, no handshaking or hugs, frequent washing of hands and cleaning of surfaces, and staying at home as much as possible only venturing out for essentials – food, cleaning supplies, money and pharmaceuticals.
Further we have purchased some 200 N 95 masks for health workers and will send these into outlying hospitals who have been working with very limited supplies. We expect more masks for health workers to arrive in the coming week.
We have produced several health infomercials on social media to educate and inform our people on how to protect themselves and their families, where to seek medical advice, how to donate, as well as providing a pattern to sew a mask and guidelines on how to care one’s mask.
The Forum will shortly launch its social, economic and financial measures which it believes will bring relief to our people at this time.
Finally, the Forum is overwhelmed by goodwill from all quarters of people who want to help from across Guyana. This demonstrates that despite what many people think, and some even propagate, that we are a divided and polarized people, the response to this campaign once again shows that we as Guyanese can rise and work together to protect our people at this time against COVID19.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will be further challenged as the virus spreads. Last week and this coming week are critical to heighten the protection of as many people as possible and reduce the transmission in the future and help to protect our health workers.
Precious time was lost in the last 10 weeks since WHO warned about a new virus, later called COVID-19, however, if everyone stays at home and wears their mask when he/she steps out f their home, and wear it all times while out, at the same time practising the cleansing and sanitation required we can make a dent on those who will be severely ill in the future.
Over the next week and weeks to come, the Forum anticipates that new demands will arise and we will do our best to meet those new challenges to protect and care for our people and our nation during this terrible pandemic. (Press release from PPP’s COVID-19 response team)