COVID-19 is not a joke: President again urges compliance and warns of stiffer penalties

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President Irfaan Ali has issued a passionate appeal for citizens to adhere to the guidelines put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, saying he would support stiffer penalties for those who continue to flout the guidelines.

“Guyanese have to understand that this is not a joke. This is their lives that they are playing with,” the President said at the sidelines of an event held at his Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown Office on Monday.

“You can’t put your life in the hands of the Task Force. You have to have a value for your life and if you don’t understand that your life has a value, then at least understand that your actions will impact other persons’ lives, and appreciate the value that other people place on their lives.”

The Head-of-State in several addresses to the nation in the past had asked that Guyanese act responsibly as the government begins its social and economic recovery from the pandemic that has gone on for more than a year now.

Dr Ali’s appeal on Monday took on a new tone of frustration as he reflected on the daily breaches to the guidelines across the country by persons in large numbers.

He praised the Joint Services and the COVID-19 Task Force for their aggressive stance against persons who flout the guidelines and said it may now be time for the court to not only impose fines but consider jail time for those who act in contravention to the guidelines.

“The only other thing is to have the Courts sentence people,” a disappointed Dr Ali said.

In stern disapproval, he pointed to a recent incident where citizens who were arrested for breaching the curfew and placed in a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) bus to be transported to the police station but were seen jumping through the windows, hurling remarks at the ranks and making advances at them.

“If you look at the army bus the other night, and, you know, I see responsible people sharing this on social media as if this is some big joke. The reckless behaviour in that bus – and people, I hope with great levels of responsibility and high levels of education – are sharing it as if it was a joke. What they were behaving with in that bus is reckless! It’s reckless,” he added.

Dr. Ali said Guyanese have to act as a responsible collective as the country looks to fight the disease which has infected over 11,000 citizens and has taken the lives of 258 people.

He also noted Guyana’s challenge with sourcing vaccines for the citizens.

To date, Guyana has received a total of 182,000 doses of vaccines and it includes 20,000 does of Sinopharm from China, 80,000 of AstraZeneca from India, another 24, 000 AstraZeneca from COVAX, and 55, 000 doses of Sputnik V from the UAE – via Russia.

Guyana has procured a total of 400,000 doses of component one and two of the Sputnik Vaccines.  To date, more than 60,000 people have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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