On March 11, 2020, Guyana recorded its first confirmed case of the Novel Coronavirus. This pneumonia-like virus is responsible for the sufferings and deaths of thousands of people globally. It is public knowledge that there is no cure for the virus. It was later advised that social distancing was the only known measure to stop the spread of this dreaded disease.
To begin, after the first death in Guyana due to the virus was recorded, tests were conducted on relatives of the deceased and it was realized that the virus had already spread to other individuals. In reaction to this, the government started to institute measures to combat this virus such as closing ports, social distancing, wearing face masks and more recently, the 6pm to 6am curfew.
This was a positive move by the government. But how effective are the measures outlined, when people are still allowed to operate in a free but controlled manner? People are still travelling to work in public transportation, supermarkets, bars, restaurants are still in operation, and market vendors are still conducting their trade. And sad to say, many are not even wearing masks and practicing social distancing and are even openly criticizing those who are.
Scientists and medical professionals are still trying to determine the mode of transmission of this virus. We were told initially that the virus can be transmitted by touching surfaces that was touched by someone who has tested positive for the virus and that wearing face masks are only for those who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms. We were later told that the virus may be airborne and that everyone should wear a face mask once they go out into public domains. This is where I believe the government has dropped the ball in the fight against COVID-19. Given the knowledge of how this virus can be transmitted and its deadly effects on persons, especially those with underlying medical conditions, Guyana should have been placed on total lockdown from the confirmation of the first case. This would have placed the government and the medical professionals in a better place to manage the spread of this dreaded disease and possibly eliminate it completely from our society.
Just take a look at Italy. On February 07, 2020, they reported three (3) confirmed cases and within a very short period of time the death tolls climb dramatically and so can be said about other countries that refused to take draconian measures to combat the virus. These measures may seem cruel or inhumane, but it has been proven that they are effective. In Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, they took these measures and recorded a minimum amount of deaths compared to other countries.
In closing, I strongly believe that the government should give the citizens a few days to secure groceries and other essential items. They should also use this time to distribute whatever aid or supplies they have for the public to those in need. And with the exception of hospitals, pharmacies and law enforcement, shut down the country for two weeks. If this is not done, people will continue to walk around spreading this virus. Those who are staying home and adhering to the guidelines, eventually their groceries will deplete and they too will have to go out. A total lockdown is what is needed before it is too late.
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