Residents in Reg. 9 hiding relatives who travelled from Brazil illegally

- REO says lack of budget stymying effective response to COVID-19

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By Bibi Khatoon

Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region Nine Carl Parker on Thursday said some residents in the Region are hiding their relatives who cross over from Brazil illegally, thus posing a threat to others.

The Regional authority has put a system in place to screen and isolate persons travelling from Brazil illegally in order to combat the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) but not everyone is adhering.

“We have a situation of residents hiding their loved ones coming across from Brazil, they’re being hidden in the villages unknowing to the village council so all of that is affecting our fight,” Parker told the News Room in a telephone interview on Thursday.

Persons are asked to make contact with the Guyana Consulate in Boa Vista if they want to return home from Brazil but Parker said “some people are just hell bent on doing the illegal thing.”

REO Carl Parker

Brazil has so far confirmed over 2.1 million cases of COVID-19 with 81,487 deaths according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

So far, Region Nine has confirmed 18 COVID-19 cases of which 11 were imported from Brazil. Of the 18, there are 13 active cases, one death and four recoveries.

Contact tracing has revealed that over 250 persons in the North and South Rupununi have been in contact with the persons who later tested positive for COVID-19.

No Budget

With a border of over 1,000 miles and the lack of a 2020 budget, it is becoming more difficult to tackle the importation of the disease.

“We need a lot of things but you know the budgetary constraints, we don’t have a Parliament and we don’t have a budget so until that issue is resolved and a budget is passed in parliament, the situation will remain the same,” the REO said.

He added that the Government is trying to assist the Region given the limited resources it can access during this period.

Since 2015, the Government has been presenting its National Budget in November for the following year.

However, with the Parliament dissolved since September of 2019 and the lack of a legitimate Government due to an elections impasse for the past four months, there is no national 2020 budget.

“Things will be more difficult for us, in light of our limited resources, both human and capital,” Parker told the News Room.

“We have engaged the villages along the border to assist us, but they too, because of the lack of resources, they’re not being that effective,” he added.

Parker said he cannot disclose what were some of the resources requested by the Region for 2020 since some planning is still ongoing.

Earlier this week, a resident of Katur in Region Nine escaped before being tested for COVID-19 after it was discovered that he came in contact with a positive patient.

“We were sending the screening and testing crew to meet with him, by the time we would have gotten there, he would’ve escaped from the village –Katur –and went to Tiger Pond. A distance of about 120 miles he travelled.”

The REO said residents continue to act recklessly and are not taking the disease seriously.

“People are still treating the situation as if it’s a normal situation, going about their business as per normal. I would say it’s a 50-50 situation here. Some people are adhering and some are not and we are trying our utmost to get the message across but apparently we’re not succeeding,” the Region Executive Officer said.

Twenty-one communities which fall under the South Rupununi District Council have proceeded on lockdown from last Wednesday to tackle the spread of the disease.

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