‘COVID’ worries grow after Reg. 9 flooding; 3 Lethem families evacuated 

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By Vishani Ragobeer

As residents and the local authorities in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) battle the floodwaters flowing from the Amazon in Brazil and exacerbated by torrential rain, the Regional Chairman, Brain Allicock, is concerned about the surge in COVID-19 cases.

“The thing is we’re still fighting the COVID… there has been an upsurge (of cases) in the villages down south.

“Crowdar, Katoonarib and Aishalton, they are receiving some more positive cases. The team is working around the clock to see how we can address this issue,” Allicock told the News Room on Thursday while providing an update on the situation on the ground.

Further, the Regional Chairman explained that people are forced to interact with each other to provide help as they all try to mitigate the impact of the floodwaters. And, he highlighted that the vast geography of the region has been overwhelming the regional health authorities.

Mayor of Lethem, John Macedo (right) distributing purified water to residents with other personnel (Photo: DPI/ March 19, 2021)

According to updates provided on Wednesday by the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC), on their Facebook page, there have been four confirmed COVID-19 cases in the village of Sawariwau (South-Central Rupununi) and 17 cases in the Katoonarib village (South Rupununi).

On Wednesday also, the Ministry of Health, via their daily COVID-19 dashboard, indicated that eight new cases have been recorded in Region Nine.

In addition to growing COVID concerns, Allicock previously related that a surge of malaria cases has also been a concern for the regional authorities.

FAMILIES EVACUATED

Allicock also noted that the water has receded by about eight inches but cautioned that it is expected to return, possibly higher, soon. In the meantime, he said that three families in Lethem have been evacuated.

Mayor of Lethem, John Macedo, said that these families have been placed in the Tabatinga Sports Complex and are being provided with the necessary support.

“There are three phases (of flooding) that we have seen in the past. When it recedes, it will come a little higher a next time and the next time… We are on full standby in preparation for this,” the Mayor highlighted.

The other shelters include the Arapaima Primary School and the Culvert City nursery school. Here, the Mayor noted that the health authorities have advised how many people would be allowed in each space in keeping with the COVID-19 protocols.

The Regional Chairman and Mayor have mobilised resources to ensure that people in the town have access to purified drinking water since those people with hand-dug wells no longer have access to clean water.

Allicock also noted that 76 farms in the North Rupununi district have been impacted and that the farmers have lost their crops. The regional authorities alongside the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) were still conducting assessments on Thursday.

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