COVID-19: Relief hampers put on pause; Gov’t assessing long term response

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The COVID-19 National Task Force has decided to put on pause the distribution of food hampers by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), according to Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon.

Following a tour of the CDC’s Headquarters Thursday, Harmon said the task force is now viewing the new Coronavirus health crisis as long term.

“We took the view that this is going to be a long term matter and therefore a one-time distribution to items in some communities will not suffice because in the long run somebody who receives a package in April most likely will need a packaged in May, June July and it goes on,” Harmon stated.

He explained that going forward, the hampers will be distributed under new guidelines including the establishment of a database as the Government is looking to also distribute vouchers in the form of cheques.

“What I am talking about is the systems that identifies who are the vulnerable in our community; in the past we had used certain lists to determine who are the vulnerable but in this pandemic, we have a situation of people who were not vulnerable before the pandemic but have become vulnerable now.”

Relief distribution recently. [Photo; Kester Craig/Facebook]
Persons will have to register on the database, which will be analyzed by the Ministry of Social Protection to determine if to distribute a care package or a voucher.

Harmon said persons would have lost jobs and their livelihood due to the measures implemented by the Government.

“We are hoping to employ a more scientific basis for distribution as we believe it is going to be for a longer period,” Harmon said.

It was also noted that the capacity of the CDC will have to be increased to manage the situation.

CDC officials and volunteers gathering items for distribution [Photo; Kester Craig/Facebook]
Harmon further stated that measures to curb the spread of the disease will likely continue into 2021.

“From all of the assessment, I am seeing it would appear we would be subjected to the coronavirus restrictions going into 2021.”

Meanwhile, in comparing Guyana to other countries in the region, Harmon said it seems “as if we are moving in the wrong direction and so I want to appeal to all Guyanese to heed all instructions given.”

Harmon said Guyana is still using a ‘soft’ approach to these measures.

“This Coronavirus is not a joke and some people still are of this view that it is not going to affect them.”

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