The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) on Friday said it is alarmed by the recent upsurge in the number of cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in certain mining areas and said illegal border crossings is to be blamed.
The Association, which represents small and medium-sized mining operations, claimed that most of the cases can be traced and are connected to illegal cross border activity at mining landings and areas where miners dwell. According to the GGDMA, these cases have been linked and traced to itinerant workers who are not directly involved or associated with mining or specific operations.
“It appears that the COVID-19 is being spread at our borders which remain porous because of lax enforcement of crossings and other border control measures, this must be addressed immediately by the authorities,” the Association stated.
The GGDMA said that at mining landings, registered shops need to follow the COVID-19 guidelines and the curfew which is in place.
The Association is calling on all miners to maintain strict adherence of the measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus and to avoid congregating unnecessarily at public spaces.
“Specifically, shops are reminded that no social gatherings or the consumption of food and drinks are to be allowed on premises, customers must purchase and leave,” the GGDMA stated. The Association said it is against illegal shops which encourage mining workers to flaunt the COVID-19 guidelines and breaches the curfew.
“These illegal shops must be removed. We call on the relevant authorities to assist in this regard,” GGDMA stated.
It added: “Activities at landings and camps that promote the spread of the disease and contribute to the disobedience of the curfew and COVID-19 guidelines must stop.
“Camp Managers must follow the guidelines and enforce the rules established by the MOH, PAHO and WHO to ensure the safety of mining camps.
“There can be no compromise to ensure the safety of all workers on the mining camp.”
The GGDMA said it recognises the increasing spread of the virus and wants to be engaged with the COVID-19 Steering Committee on whatever decisions are being made for the gold and diamond mining industry of Guyana to help alleviate this disease.
The Association said it continues to work with PAHO to develop a guideline for mining and this is expected to be completed by next week.