Mar 17, 2020 News Comments Off on Impact of coronavirus… Guyana slowly grinds to a halt
Given the nature and characteristics of the novel coronavirus, a number of public entities in Guyana are implementing precautionary measures as the country slowly grinds to a halt.
A series of advisories disseminated to the media yesterday by several government agencies and privately own businesses provided information on the measures that will be undertaken as the nations strives to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, now known as COVID -19.
The new preventative measures have been listed in what seems to be a sequence of statements.
Follow Public Health guidelines – DoC
In a statement issued yesterday, the Department of Citizenship (DoC) called on members of the public to follow guidelines provided by the Ministry of Public Health, (MoPH) for re infection, prevention and control. Following consultations, the DoC said that it has adjusted a previously issued statement detailing the steps.
According to the new statement, the DoC requests that citizens visiting its offices minimise the risks involved when large numbers of persons are congregated. It also noted that persons will be attended to in smaller groups and will be permitted entry on this basis.
“Members of the public are advised that masks are only required if they are caring for a person suspected of being infected with COVID-19 or if they are coughing or sneezing.
Persons who do not display any symptoms of COVID-19 and who are not caring for anyone suspected to have contracted COVID-19 need not wear masks to access services at the DoC or the General Registrar’s Office.”
These precautions are especially necessary for the DoC since a significant number of persons who utilise its services on a daily basis are foreign nationals, many of whom would have engaged in recent overseas travel and may have been exposed to the COVID-19.
This request will remain in effect until the status of the spread of COVID-19 in Guyana is reviewed.
NGSA postponed, no private lessons permitted –Education Ministry
According to the Ministry of Education (MoE), as of yesterday in wake of Guyana’s confirmation of multiple cases of COVID-19, the novel coronaviirus, countrywide sanitisation of schools and other Ministry buildings have commenced. This is according to information released by the Education Ministry yesterday.
In addition to the closure of these facilities to facilitate the sanitation activities, the Ministry in a statement revealed that changes have been made to the dates for the 2020 sitting of the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA).
According to the Ministry, all schools have been closed for two weeks beginning yesterday, March 16, 2020. During this period, the Ministry is scheduled to continue to assess the situation and engage in the sanitisation of all schools and its buildings to ensure that children, teachers and staff can return to a safe and healthy learning and working environment.
In the interim, the Education Ministry has put the general public on notice that due to the current situation, careful thought has been given to the scheduled dates for the administration of the NGSA.
“As such, please be advised that the previously announced dates (April 8 and 9, 2020) are no longer valid. Adequate notice will be given with regard to the new dates,” the Ministry even as he revealed that it has also warned against holding of private lessons,” the statement said.
The Ministry said that it was brought to its attention that some persons are still engaging in the practice of hosting private classes and has therefore urge such persons to desist from this and instead practice social distancing as efforts are made to keep the public safe from the novel coronavirus.
Parents are nonetheless encouraged to continue working with their children in preparation for this assessment. In addition, parents and students can visit the Ministry’s website to access NGSA Practice Test Papers in the four core areas (visit the Ministry of Education website using https://bit.ly/39Y698S).
Children can also tune into the Guyana Learning Channel (Channel 42/Cable 29) to access the nursery to secondary school programmes and documentaries.
They can also listen to the Radio broadcasts of the Interactive Radio Instruction for Grades 1 – 3 daily, the Ministry informed.
The Ministry has also advised that pupils can continue to listen to Broadcasts to Schools for Grade 3-6 at 13:00h daily on NCN Radio. The programmes can be accessed on the following radio stations: Mahdia, Bartica, Essequibo, Mabaruma, Lethem and Annai.
UG takes precaution
The Transitional Management Committee (TMC) of the University of Guyana has advised that staff and students of both campuses (Turkeyen and Tain) and the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE) will be absent from campus and working online for the next two weeks, until March 30, 2020.
In a statement, the institution noted that the extension is applicable to all staff and students of UG, with the exception of those essential services staff in the Registry, Bursary, Maintenance, Security and Personnel Divisions who will be deployed on service as required. “This is a precautionary measure in response to NCV-19,” outlined the university statement.
In addition to several online programmes being available, UG is also prepared to offer extra-mural classes at four locations through its Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE). The institution has also promised to offer the opportunity for student engagement in debating, sports, and cultural, religious and professional activities.
The University said that it has been relying on scientific evidence emerging and based on modelling of the infection in large countries already affected. It has therefore taken note of the fact that the most effective means of managing the novel coronavirus is through mass containment procedures in the period of highest vulnerability, that is, within 14 days of exposure.
Courts sanitized, SKYPE calls to deal with remand prisoners – Judiciary
In view of the prevailing situation, the Judiciary has put several systems in place to guard against the spread of the disease, including dealing with remand prisoners via Skype.
In a statement from the Supreme Court on Sunday, it was noted that the decision was taken following a meeting with Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) and senior court officials on Friday.
The courts were fumigated and sanitised at the weekend starting with the Court of Appeal, the High Court in Demerara and the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
Other measures include the use of sanitisers for everyone entering the court, providing sanitisers at strategic locations in the courts, and providing a Fact Sheet on COVID-19 to everyone.
Members of the public who do not have cases/matters in court but who seek to accompany friends and family are encouraged to stay away from the courts.
A response team has also been set up to deal with the preparedness, response, and interaction with public health agencies. The team will interface with staff and report to the Chancellor of the Judiciary.
Judges and Magistrates, as well as supervisors of court registries and offices, are asked to provide further guidance on the attendance of litigants and progress of trials and hearings.
GPOC implements necessary measures
The Guyana Post Office Corporation, (GPOC) has said that, “all customer service agents, postal clerks and postmen and women have all been provided with face masks and gloves to use while attending to our valued customers.”
“It is a necessary precaution as we are conscious of the exposure and risks identified with the COVID 19. We have also taken additional measures to continuously sanitise the customer service areas at all of our offices,” the GPOC said in a statement.
GPL suspends meter reading, other field exercises
The Guyana Power and Light Corporation (GPL) noted that in recognition of health risks associated with the Coronavirus Disease, the company with effect from yesterday (March 16, 2020) initiated temporary modifications to various categories of service delivery. “Efforts are however underway to accommodate applications for new services through our website www.gplinc.net before the end of the week dated Friday, March 20, 2020. Customers will be kept updated on the readiness of this online platform when it is completed,” the company said.
Meanwhile, the company announced suspension of field services too.
“Our field staff within our billing, metering and loss reduction departments will not be operational until April 2020, pending a review of the developments of the situation through the Ministry of Public Health. Those metered customer accounts that will not be read from March 16, 2020 or unsuccessfully read prior to March 16, 2020 will be estimated if a reading is not submitted via our WhatsApp Service,” it revealed.
Customers are advised to utilise the various electronic options of tendering payments including Mobile Money Guyana (MMG), Bill Express, SurePay and at commercial banks.
Pay bills online —E-networks
E-Networks has also taken a similar line of action calling on its customers to take steps to deal with COVID-19. The cable company announced that it will be temporarily reducing its staffing at branches and encourages its customers to utilise features offered by the company to conduct common transactions online, without needing to physically visit a branch.
These features include its newly launched mobile app, “E-Networks E-Care” available on Google Play and iOS App Store.
The Protected Areas Commission (PAC) and the National Parks Commission (NPC) yesterday announced that the Georgetown Zoo will be closed beginning today, Tuesday 17th March, 2020, until further notice.
“Please be advised also that the Botanical Gardens and the National Park will remain open as we take extra precautionary measures to ensure that all of our public facilities are fully sanitised,” a statement by the PAC read.
Meanwhile, several sporting activities and public gathering have also been cancelled. For two weeks, the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, National Gymnasium, National Aquatic Center, Colgrain Pool will remain closed to facilitate sanitation activities.
The Ministry of Public Health has advised members of the public to reduce the risk of infection by frequently washing hands, exercising safe coughing techniques and avoiding close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough.
In a statement it said, “Workplaces should advise employees to stay at home if they are showing signs of COVID-19 and maintain social distance of at least three feet from people, especially those showing signs such as coughing, sneezing and high body temperature (fever). Do not visit hospitals or health centres if you are suspected to have COVID-19. Instead, immediately self-quarantine and contact MOPH hotline 227-4986/624-3069.”
In addition, the Ministry is seeking to get in contact with passengers who travelled on Caribbean Airlines flight BW 727 on March 12, 2020 from JFK to Georgetown.
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