We have passed the tipping point. The country is now in grave danger.
The numbers tell their own tale of what is likely to emerge within the next few days. First it was five coronavirus cases. More than one week later, the numbers went to eight. Within one day, it has moved to 12.
The curve has shot upwards. 5…8….12. An exponential increase in the confirmed coronavirus cases is taking place. This is not good news. Further delays are now out of the question.
Two persons have already died. This may not seem a lot but in some Caribbean countries where there are more than fifty confirmed cases, there is yet to be a coronavirus death.
The President must act and act decisively. Since last Saturday, this newspaper called for a lockdown similar to what is taking place in Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname. We have lost four days and there has been no lockdown. The delays will be costly.
The virus is out there circulating. The increase in confirmed cases by more than 50% in one day, in a country where testing has been minimal, signals the danger in the days ahead. Lives are at stake.. a lot of lives!
It is time for a lockdown for at least two weeks. Everything must stop except essential services. People must stay at home. We do not need to take a week to decide what constitutes essential services. Also, not all the staff of essential services need to work. There is no need right now for public utilities to be receiving payments. This should be deferred for 2 weeks.
The following can be considered as essential services: fire service, ambulance service, police, the military, hospitals, health clinics, water authority, Guyana Power and Light, petrol stations and petrol storage facilities, telephone service providers, bridge services, funeral parlours, nursing homes and old-persons homes, public and private security firms, supermarkets, corner shops, pharmacies and wholesale and retail food outlets, manufacturers of food and stockfeed, water and beverages, public transportation providers, koker attendants, farming, persons harvesters, food vending.
Banking services should be limited. Only automatic teller machines ATMs), the payment of pensions and urgent and necessary international money transfers should be allowed
Magistrate courts should be kept open to deal with criminal cases where the police assess that releasing suspects on bail represents a threat to the rest of society or that the suspect is likely to skip bail. Only urgent civil matters, such as those heard yesterday, should be entertained in the High Court.
The Mayor of Georgetown does not have the power to impose any curfew. He may regulate the opening and closing hours of businesses but he is not empowered to do what others in some parts of the country are attempting to do.
What he can do is regulate pavement vending. Right now pedestrians hardly have room to maneuver on the pavements. Vendors continue to encroach on the pavements, leaving little space for pedestrians. It is hard to practice social distancing when you have to go to work or do shopping and you are crammed together on the pavements because vendors are everywhere.
Restaurants should be allowed to be opened but should only sell take-outs. Markets should only be opened only to those selling food and medicines. Food vendors should be allowed to operate on pavements and in flea food markets but their stalls should be at a specified distance from each other.
Hotels should be allowed to have guests since there are foreigners who cannot travel out of the country. There is no need to close sports grounds but gatherings greater than six should be prohibited.
Government ministries should be closed, except for key personnel who are absolutely required. All other staff should work from home or on call, that is, if required. All public works, except those relating to the building of hospitals and facilities for coronavirus patients should be ceased. All private construction should cease.
The supermarkets should be flooded with food so that the poor are not taken advantage of. The ports should be kept open.
Trouble lies ahead unless there is an immediate lockdown. The health system is already overburdened and underprepared is overwhelmed.
The Ministry of Health has said that PAHO has provided it with some modeling projections. All modeling is done on assumptions. The PAHO model which points to 1400 plus cases should be published so that the public can determine whether this is the best case or worst case scenario. Based on 1400 cases, Guyana is looking down the barrel of a gun. If that materializes a great many persons are going to die.
Granger has to act now. Lockdown orders should be issued for non-essential services.
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