‘You have to get tough’ – Pres. Ali says in response to calls for strict measures against unvaccinated people

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With local private sector bodies and key figures within his government urging tough action against persons who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19, President Irfaan Ali on Thursday said the matter was still under consideration.

“This is a pandemic, it’s not a joke and you have to get tough sometimes,” Dr. Ali said at the sidelines of an event held at his official residence, State House.

Referring to proposed guidelines he has received from the private sector, Dr. Ali said whatever measures the government decides to effect, it will be done to bring a balance to the situation.

That balance he explained will ensure that those “responsible” people who have been vaccinated are not subject to the “irresponsible” act of those who refuse to be vaccinated.

Earlier this week, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) said it observed with increasing concern, the growing cases of COVID-19 infections and deaths, all of which involve persons who are not fully vaccinated.

The PSC pointed to the recent position taken by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, that those who refuse to be vaccinated are putting the rest of the population at risk.

Moreover, the PSC also endorsed the position taken by the Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, that “if you want to exercise a right to not take the vaccine you must be prepared to face the consequences” and that “while someone has the right to refuse the vaccine those persons do not have a right to expose the rest of us to their reckless risks”.

The measures proposed will essentially see unvaccinated persons having to produce weekly negative COVID-19 tests to be allowed into their workplaces and other entities.

The PSC also urged that the government require all medical and security personnel in frontline contact with other persons must either be vaccinated or provide evidence of a COVID-19 negative test and that all places providing hospitality and entertainment services, including restaurants, require evidence of either vaccination or a negative current COVID-19 negative test from its customers in order for them to receive service.

Dr. Ali said the new measures to be put in place will also address visitors to the country where Guyana will adopt a CARICOM position to allow vaccinated regional visitors entry.

Notwithstanding, the requirement for a negative PCR test will remain in place because of the low availability of vaccines to developing countries.

Dr. Ali also shut down criticisms of the government’s procurement of the Russian-made Sputnik V through a middle man in the United Arab Emirates at a premium cost.

“My only focus and the focus of the government is the protection of the lives of the people of Guyana… there is no price to the life of the people of this country.

“We tried every single source, we tried every single manufacturer, every single Embassy, Ambassador, country and state to get the vaccine and we got it from this source and the only thing that matters is that we were able to get it,” he added.

Dr. Ali said the vaccines have helped the country tremendously even as he encouraged persons to go out and get vaccinated.

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