Guyanese stuck abroad as result of the closure of the airports to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus are appealing for special authorization to be granted for them to return home.
The News Room understands that there are approximately 160 persons in New York and 82 in Florida who have written the Government to return. They would have traveled for vacation, medical purposes and businesses when the decision was made to close all ports to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The approval by NCTF for 103 Guyanese stuck in various CARICOM countries to return home has given the group “a newfound ray of hope that we may soon be allowed to reunite with our loved ones.”
In a joint letter issued to the press, the group of persons say they recognize the decision to close the air and land borders as a justifiable component of the mitigation measures gazetted by the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) in collaboration with the Public Health Ministry.
“However, as stated by the Ministry of Health, exceptions can be made for special authorized flights,” the letter stated.
The letter further stated that multiple requests were made to the relevant authorities and NCTF for them to return home but all these requests were rejected. It also noted that the government has indicated several times that efforts will be made available to facilitate their return.
The News Room spoke with a young doctor Bibi Hussain who traveled with her husband, brother and father to the US on March 14 for a wedding.
Dr Hussain said her family is ready ready to meet all the requirements of the NCTF in order to return home.
“Upon arrival in Guyana, we assure you that we are fully committed in satisfying any requirements by the NCTF and the Ministry of Health.
“With all these mandatory guidelines highlighted and the fact that they can be easily and readily fulfilled, we are pleading with the NCTF to facilitate our return home as soon as possible,” the letter stated.
Apart from financial struggles the individuals face, they also recounted that the situation is taking a toll on their mental health.
“Many of us fear that we may be forced into poverty and bankruptcy should we remain here any longer. There are persons who have now become financially paralyzed as a result of being compelled to live in a foreign land, with no source of income, since we cannot legally work here, and hence are on the brink of starvation.”
The letter also stated that some persons have either overstayed their permitted time or now have expired visas.
“The isolation, fear and uncertainty that we are inflicted with has left us in a despairing state of mind and many of us, as well as our loved ones in Guyana, have now succumbed to depression and anxiety,” the letter said.
The Task Force previously stated while it is “sympathetic” to Guyanese stuck in all parts of the world, it considers it a priority to ensure that all citizens in Guyana are protected from the spread of COVID-19.
Guyana’s first recorded confirmed case and death of COVID-19 was that of a Guyanese woman who travelled back home from the United States.
As of May 19, 2020, Guyana recorded 125 positive COVID-19 cases, including 10 deaths.
The total number of persons tested to date is 1,269 with the total number of negative cases being 1144.
So far, 46 persons have recovered.