With 18 COVID-19 cases in Reg.9 illegal border crossing remains a challenge

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By Isanella Patoir

With a rise in COVID-19 cases within the last few days in Region Nine, the authorities are continuing their plea for a heavy Army and Police presence at the border between Brazil and Guyana.

The total confirmed cases in the Region rose to 18 at the weekend. This is worrying as the authorities in the Region say the health sector is now overwhelmed.

The majority of the recorded cases are imported cases from Brazil and is largely due to illegal crossings.

“We are praying it doesn’t climb further even,” Regional Chairman, Bryan Allicock told the News Room during a telephone interview Monday.

Lethem along with four indigenous villages in Central, North and South Rupununi have recorded cases.

The illegal border crossings between Guyana and Brazil continue to stretch and challenge the resources in Region Nine. Brazil’s COVID-19 outbreak is one of the world’s most severe, with more than 2 million cases and 79,000 deaths.

“Our security is overwhelmed; our nurses and doctors are overwhelmed at this time because it is a large region –the largest in the country.

“And when we have cases coming out from the North, South and then we have cases in Central Rupununi, these are the things that would tell on our people,” the Regional Chairman said.

Regional Chairman Bryan Allicock

The Regional Chairman said they are now working with the Brazilian Police but the illegal crossings continue.

He pleaded for assistance from the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force.

“The thing is the Brazilians said they are trying on their side, we need more manpower in terms of security and military, we have a few but that is not enough.”

The Region is expected to see more cases as a number of persons in quarantine are awaiting test results.

“We are doing more testing, we are waiting results, we have people under home quarantine too and we have systems set up where the medical personnel would check on those persons and monitor them,” the Regional Chairman said.

He said it is becoming difficult for the frontline health workers to monitor the COVID-19 cases with only the use of one vehicle.

Allicock also noted that friends and families have been aiding with the illegal border crossings and the Regional Health Emergency Committee now has a team educating persons in the villages about how dangerous this is.

“I have public health personnel pleading with the people on a daily basis because when a loved one dies you don’t see them back…our people here I plead with them to take things in hand and observe the rules that is meted out, the lockdown measures and obey the measures so we can stem this thing from spreading further,” the Regional Chairman stated.

Three persons were arrested recently in Lethem for attempting to smuggle nine Brazilian nationals into Guyana.

Lethem’s first confirmed COVID-19 case was recorded on May 12. The patient, identified as Hamlet Da Silva entered Guyana via an illegal crossing.

Donna Ambrose Greaves, a mother of a 7-year-old boy was recorded as Guyana’s 15th COVID-19 death and the first for Lethem on July 5.

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