The Regional Health Officer of Region 9 (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo), Dr Naail Uthman has expressed concern about the challenges Guyana face in effectively monitoring the border shared with Brazil as the new Coronavirus pandemic is on the rise, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.
Many of the bordering communities have illegal crossing points which make it harder for the authorities to monitor.
While Guyana has closed all its ports of entry, movement is allowed for certain goods and services, including from Brazil to Lethem.
“Officially, we have facilitated on Thursdays only the movement of goods and services from Brazil on which we know Guyana depends heavily,” Dr Uthman told an extraordinary meeting between the Guyana/Brazil Frontier Committee on Friday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs release noted that the meeting was held virtually to discuss challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and cross border movement between the two countries.
According to the Ministry, Dr. Uthman further explained that a team was established at the port to sanitize those goods and services.
To date, Brazil has 1.58 million confirmed cases including 64,383 deaths and 979,000 recoveries.
Guyana has already confirmed at least three COVID-19 cases that was imported from Brazil.
According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry release, officials from the two States focused on the impact of the pandemic on regional economic activity, indigenous communities along the border, illegal crossings, security, joint patrols, support for vulnerable groups and trafficking in persons, among others.
“Moreover, they discussed measures to coordinate efforts to support the health and safety of the region.”
The release stated: Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Charlene Phoenix, as leader of Guyana’s delegation to the virtual summit, in her remarks, noted that “Given what we have been seeing with regard to the COVID-19 cases on both sides, we should have a discussion to ensure that we are coordinating our responses to the pandemic as closely as possible.”
As such, the two States committed to combining efforts for information sharing, especially in local dialects as well as in English, Portuguese and Spanish, to all communities along the border. They also expressed the intent to explore additional measures to keep the communities safe throughout the course of the pandemic.
The release further noted that the respective delegations were led by Ambassador Phoenix and Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Her Excellency Maria Duclos Carisio.
Guyana’s delegation also comprised Ambassador to Brazil, His Excellency George Talbot, Consul General to Boa Vista, Ms. Shirley Melville, and a number of representatives from the Ministries of Public Health, Communities, and Social Protection and from the Department of Citizenship.
The previous meeting of the Guyana/Brazil Frontier Committee was held in Bonfim, State of Roraima, Brazil on October 30 and 31, 2018.
Guyana was scheduled to host the eighth meeting. However, due to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in both countries, the Government of Guyana recommended the organization of this extraordinary meeting.
The Guyana/Brazil Frontier Committee was established on September 14, 2009 to address joint action between the border communities.