Gov’t not exploring total closure of borders despite Delta surge, CDC travel warning

- Brazil border could be reopened with reduction in cases

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The government is not considering a total closure of Guyana’s borders despite the ongoing surge in COVID-19 infections that has presumably been caused by the spread of the deadly Delta variant.

This is according to the Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony who was responding to questions from the News Room on Wednesday during his daily COVID-19 update.

Recently, Dr Anthony assumed that the deadly Delta variant of COVID-19 is circulating in Guyana based on the clinical parameters of the new infections recorded in hundreds of people. Importantly, too, the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised against travel to Guyana, stating that even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.

Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony.

“There are lots of countries in the Caribbean who have been moved up to Level Four (on the CDC travel notice list), that is because across the region we are seeing variants,” Dr Anthony said.

He later added: “Apart from Delta, according to a recent meeting that I attended virtually, we know that all the different types of variants are circulating in the Caribbean- including Mu.

“In the Caribbean, people move a lot, so we expect that all the variants are here.”

Guyana has not been able to definitively confirm the presence of variants since the country has not sent more COVID-19 samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for testing. Only 10 samples were ever sent for variant testing (genomic sequencing); these were sent at the beginning of this year and returned negative.

Meanwhile, the minister also addressed travel into Guyana from Brazil and Suriname which he said is well-regulated and includes the necessary COVID-19 precautions.

Last week, there was protest action by members of the communities at the borders of Guyana and Brazil against the closure of the crossing but the Guyana Government on Saturday said the crossing will remain closed.

The current arrangement that has been in place for more than a year restricts the movement of goods and people to one day per week (on Thursdays). People have, however, complained that it has severely impacted commerce in the area.

On Wednesday, he said this arrangement with Brazil would continue “until we can see a significant reduction in cases.”

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