Illegal crossings contributed to increase in Reg. 9 ‘COVID’ cases

- Regional Chairman laments

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The illegal crossing of people from neighbouring Brazil into Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) has contributed to an increase in the number of people affected by the disease, COVID-19 in the region.

This is according to the Regional Chairman of Region Nine, Brian Allicock. He said this while providing a recent update on the challenges faced there to Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips during a visit to the flood-affected area.

“Sixteen of them came across (from Brazil), Toshao’s relatives, and that is how (the COVID cases) gone up,” Allicock lamented.

He did not state who the Toshao is or what village these relatives have gone into. He, however, highlighted that some of those people were infected with the disease. Since March, last year, the land border (the Takutu Bridge) between Guyana and Brazil has been closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 cases. Following the emergence of the P.1 variant in Brazil, air travel between the two countries has been suspended.

But, the large, porous border that exists between the two countries has, reportedly, been challenging to police. As such, there have been illegal crossings and concerns of the importation of Brazil’s deadlier P.1 variant.

Advisor on emerging viral diseases at the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Jairo Mendez-Rico, has confirmed that the P.1 variant is in Guyana, but the local health authorities maintain that they do not have laboratory evidence to confirm this.

The Regional Chairman also highlighted that the region has been recording new infections each day. According to the Health Ministry’s daily COVID-19 Dashboard, in one week, from May 17 to May 24, the region has recorded 46 new COVID-19 cases.

Importantly, the communities of the Deep South Rupununi area, which had remained COVID free for an entire year, are now recording infections in their communities. Last week, the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC) reported that there were 17 new cases reported in the village of Katoonarib.

Previously, Allicock told the News Room that the flooding situation has also contributed to an increase in the COVID-19 cases in the region.

He 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.

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