Airports unlikely to re-open on May 3; PAHO says relaxing measures too early can lead to new wave of COVID-19


By Bibi Khatoon

Days before the one-month COVID-19 measures come to an end, Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority retired Colonel Egbert Field says it is unlikely that the airports will be reopened after May 3 and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) says relaxing measures too early can lead to a new wave of new cases.

“I do not think that the airport will likely be open at the time of expiration of this directive,” Field told the News Room Tuesday, noting that the final decision lies with the National COVID-19 Task Force.

The Aviation Director emphasised that it has to be taken into consideration that the countries with direct flights to Guyana still have thousands of COVID-19 cases. He has since submitted a report to the Minister of Public Infrastructure in relation to this.

Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Egbert Field

He pointed out that several airlines are currently not in operation as a result of the deadly new Coronavirus.

Guyana stopped all incoming flights on March 17 to bar the importation of positive COVID-19 cases. The closure was extended to May 3.

Meanwhile, during a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Director of PAHO, Dr. Carissa Etienne said relaxing the restrictions on travel too early can lead to a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Following a period of social distancing, any attempt to transition to more flexible measures should be taken with extreme caution,” Dr Etienne warned.

She added: “interrupting recommended social distancing too early can also have the opposite effect and lead to a second wave of COVID-19 cases extending the suffering at the socio-economic [level].”

She noted that transmission patterns must be examined, including COVID-19 testing, contact tracing capacity, availability of hospital beds and other equipment.

Director of PAHO, Dr. Carissa Etienne

“Surveillance must be strengthened to ensure there is adequate monitoring of this criteria…we can also look at other countries which have transitioned and are transitioning,” Dr Etienne said.

On the other hand, the PAHO Director said social distancing measures must be accompanied by measures which ensure the most vulnerable persons are able to survive.

As of April 28, Guyana confirmed 75 cases of the disease.

The global number is at 2.9 million according to the World Health Organisation.

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