Safety of recount site must be considered before approving more recount stations – Lawrence

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Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence on Saturday said the “safety and security” of the Arthur Chung Conference Center (ACCC) must first be taken into consideration before approval is granted to increase the number of work stations for the national recount of votes.

“The main thing should be ‘can we carry out this operation within a safe environment?’ And I believe that the [Guyana Elections] Commission recognises the members of the HEOC (Health Emergency Committee) can provide such a technical advise them,” Lawrence said.

Speaking to reporters camped outside the ACCC where the recount is taking place, Lawrence said the team of health experts that visited the recount site on Thursday last to assess the space for more work stations is yet to present their report to the COVID-19 Task Force.

“As far as I’m aware that report has not been presented as yet. I trust that it will be soon so that the Task Force can be able to share that with GECOM,” said the Public Health Minister.

The Task Force is headed by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and is made up of all Government Ministers; the Chief Executive Officer is Joseph Harmon – a senior member of the incumbent coalition Government.

Lawrence made it clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious situation in Guyana and this must be considered before a decision is taken to increase the work stations.

“Let me repeat again, Guyana is not safe right now with regards to this pandemic.

“Covid-19 is real.

“That must be the online call in terms of how more stations can be added…the safety of all within this environment,” she said.

She dismissed reports that the Task Force is politicized.

GECOM wants six additional recount stations to be added to the current ten in an effort to speed up the recounting of 2,336 ballot boxes from the March 2 general and regional elections.

Members from the Health Emergency Committee visited the recount site Thursday last and committed to providing a response to GECOM on whether the stations can be established in accordance with the COVID-19 guidelines.

Two days later and GECOM is still awaiting that response.

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