See below a statement issued by the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday:
Two months ago, the Guyana Brazil international border at the Takutu River Bridge was officially closed. The reason was to prevent the spread of the deadly disease CoronaVirus, mainly to the State of Roraima and Region 9 or the Rupununi Region as we know it.
Since then, only priority goods are allowed to enter Guyana on Thursdays, after a process of sanitisation, conducted by the Ministry of Public Health and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority.
So far, it seems that the decision to close the border is justified and has helped in a significant way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 Guyana into Lethem and the wider Rupununi Region.
Brazil is now the second most infected country in the world and in the State of Roraima the infection rate is increasing by almost 100 persons every day.
On any normal day, hundreds of Brazilians from the Northern States of Brazil would visit Lethem to shop various merchandise and return to Brazil. These persons would not normally be required to undergo any major checks upon entering the Port Complex at Lethem and most times a visual check is conducted by Guyanese authorities of the persons entering and leaving.
Some of these persons come from Manaus, which is almost 1000km away from Lethem. Manaus presently has over 29,000 persons infected and Boa Vista almost 2,500. Presently hospitals in both cities are overwhelmed with patients. The recovery rate is slow and the death rate continues to climb.
Gold prices are at an all-time high, and over for many years, thousands of Brazilians have travelled to and from Georgetown and our interior locations to work in the mining industry. Certainly, the high price for gold would again encourage them to travel and pose a big risk of bringing the deadly CoronaVirus with them.
Presently, Guyana does not have the capacity to handle any drastic increase of the infection of our population. The number of positive Covid-19 cases have been slowly climbing and in order to ensure that this does not get out of control, we need to ensure the Guyana Brazil border remains closed to people traffic until the situation in Brazil is under control.
The Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) calls on the NCTF to ensure that the Guyana Brazil border remains closed at least for the next 3 months or until such time as it is safe to reopen to regular traffic.