Fewer cases, high vaccination justify relaxation of COVID rules – Health Minister
--But restrictions could return with another surge in cases
The long-standing COVID-19 regulations that restricted social activities were officially removed on Monday and Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony said a low number of new infections coupled with Guyana’s high vaccination rate justifies this relaxation.
He, however, emphasised that Guyana has not yet rid itself of the novel coronavirus.
“The pandemic is changing.
“We have seen a decline in cases globally but in many ways, we still have to be monitoring what is happening,” Dr. Anthony said at the sidelines of an event at the Marriott Hotel on Tuesday.
In January, Guyana experienced a massive surge in COVID-19 infections with 20,536 reportedly infected. This was the highest monthly total recorded since the start of the pandemic and the surge was attributed to the spread of the Omicron variant.
By February, the number of new infections dropped to 2,812. As of March 14, only 224 new infections had been recorded thus far.
Meanwhile, 435,509 persons or 85 per cent of adults in Guyana have received at least COVID-19 vaccine dose; 332, 605 people or 65 per cent of adults have received two vaccine doses.
These figures, the Health Minister said, indicate that Guyana is faring well against the pandemic. What remains concerning, he said, is the lower uptake of vaccines among the teenage population despite the abundance of vaccines available for those individuals.
He also stated that Guyana has been able to develop its hospital capacity to treat many more people who may become infected and subsequently hospitalised if they experience the more severe of life-threatening symptoms of COVID-19.
Previously, he also told the News Room that the introduction of COVID-19 treatment drugs, namely Remdesivir, Molnupiravir and Barcitonib, have proved helpful in Guyana’s COVID-19 fight.
RETURN OF RESTRICTIONS?
Despite boasting of the local health sector’s responsiveness to the pandemic, the Health Minister acknowledged that drastic changes in the pandemic would see the return of some restrictions.
“If we notice that things are going up, obviously we’ll have to take the relevant precautions.
“This would take the form of both public health measures and other measures that are necessary,” Dr. Anthony said.
On Monday, before President Dr. Irfaan Ali approved the new regulations that remove many of the COVID-19 rules, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC said the relaxation signals that Guyana is returning to a semblance of normalcy.
He, however, pointed out that despite the reduction in the regulations, people are still encouraged to adhere to key guidelines for their own safety.
Mask wearing, for example, is no longer mandatory but Nandlall said that people are still encouraged to wear their masks in public. He also emphasised that people must continue to get vaccinated to protect themselves from experiencing the more serious or life-threatening symptoms of the deadly disease.