COVID -19 patients leaving isolation facilities, meeting residents in Lethem

-More resources to be deployed

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Region Nine has 113 active cases of COVID-19 with 36 in the town of Lethem.

As the Regional authorities struggle to control the crossover of persons from Brazil, Mayor of Lethem John Macedo has said those placed in isolation are also defying guidelines not to mingle with residents and purchase items from shops in the town.

“I observe people on both sides of the fence [at the isolation facility] communicating with each other which is really dangerous for Lethem…and persons are leaving that facility and mixing with the residents,” Macedo said.

The Mayor called for a better fence at the Malaria Building in Lethem which is being used as an isolation facility and where this practice is most prevalent.

Mr. Macedo was joined by another representative of the regional COVID-19 task force Allison Camacho who noted that “these isolation and quarantine facilities – their gates should be locked and there should be a guard there. If somebody comes there, they have to meet with a guard.”

Allison Camacho

She alluded to the Regional Guest House which is another isolation facility noting that “anyone can drive in and drive out.”

The third isolation facility in Lethem is located at the Lethem Regional Hospital while quarantine patients are kept at a hotel in the Region.

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor raised their concerns during a meeting with the Regional Health Officer Niall Uthman, Head of the Civil Defence Commission Kester Craig, Minister of Local Government Nigel Dharamlall and Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai on Tuesday in Lethem.

The Officials at the meeting in Lethem on Tuesday

The Ministers visited the Region to meet with the COVID-19 taskforce to discuss what is needed in the Region to tackle the disease.

In response to the concerns, Craig said the Regional Task Force will look at that as a priority “because we have to contain and stop the spread.”

The CDC Director added that there is need for more public awareness.

“[COVID-19] is a significant threat to life and we have to get that message out to the population…I know initially when COVID-19 impacted Guyana, Region Nine was one of the Regions that had all of its measures in place.

“So to me it’s a position whereby people become complacent and we need to restart that campaign so people would be aware of the seriousness,” he said.

He further called on the private sector to assist in tackling the virus.

Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall in his closing remarks disclosed that the Prime Minister Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips has established a Cabinet sub-committee including himself, the Amerindian Affairs Minister, Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill and Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud to tackle the spread of the disease.

“I’m giving authority to the Region[al heads] to ensure this is a front-burner issue so they have to deploy more resources…we need to also cut the bureaucracy,” he told those gathered.

Twelve indigenous villages have so far recorded COVID-19 cases.

The Minister of Amerindian Affairs urged that the messages in the villages which are broadcasted in their languages, focus on the COVID-19 guidelines so that persons can better understand and play their part. She said items will be given to the residents so that they can do what is necessary to protect themselves.

“I would want to say that your messages must continue to focus on the protocols on COVID-19 – social distancing, washing your hands regularly –I think the CDC has plans to provide sanitizing hampers. Some of these items are basically non-existent in some of the homes,” Sukhai said.

“Guyana can least afford our small population to be diminished by this virus,” she added.

Director General of the Civil Defence Commission Lt. Col. Kester Craig

Guyana has so far recorded over 600 cases with 22 deaths.

According to the Regional Health Officer, 404 persons were tested in the Region so far.

He noted that one of the major challenges is getting results in the Region in a timely manner. In the interim, the National Reference Laboratory in Georgetown has begun sending the digital copies of the results before the hard copies.

Dr. Uthman also reiterated the concerns with persons travelling from Brazil which has recorded the second-highest number of cases globally.

He revealed that there are 25 crossings in the Region and this is hard to monitor.

The Regional Commander Superintendent Keithon King told the meeting that has requested additional resources through the Deputy Commander –Administrations.

On Tuesday, the Government donated 520 hampers and over two thousand (2,000) face masks to Toshaos and Community Leaders in the Region to aid households that are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The communities of Potarinau, Katuur, Baitoon, Quiko, Sand Creek, Wowetta, Rupertee, Annai and Aranaputa are all expected to benefit from this initiative.

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