The United Kingdom and other parts of Europe are moving once again into lockdowns amidst a surge in coronavirus infections. The number of positive coronavirus cases in the UK, while well below its peak level in April, has been increasing over the past two weeks.
More than 385,000 persons have been infected in the United Kingdom alone. Of this number, more than 40,000 have died. This is more than 10%. At one stage, the United Kingdom (UK) had the second highest number of deaths. But it has long been surpassed by the United States (203,000); Brazil (135,000); India (85,000) and Mexico (72,000). The UK is among the top 10 for countries with the highest per capita deaths.
Guyana may soon surpass them given the terrible indifference, which the authorities are demonstrating towards the spiralling number of cases and deaths. The Ministry of Health appears to be operating in its own bubble and in another stratosphere. We keep hearing about increased testing but testing has not consistently been up to even the target of 300 tests per day. We keep hearing about a drug, which encourages recoveries but we are not certain whether the second batch of doses is coming on a slow train from the Far East. We keep hearing about the G$52M testing machine but no date as to when it will arrive and when the cartridges will be sourced.
While all this talk is being thrown around, the total number of confirmed cases has increased three-fold. The total number of confirmed cases has now passed 2,000 and deaths have almost tripled since August 2, 2020. Yesterday there was a staggering 75 new cases.
Yet despite these frightening numbers, the PPP/C administration is burying its head like an ostrich in the sand. It callously and recklessly refuses to tighten the social restrictions save and expect for reverting to the 6pm to 6am curfew when 90% of the people are in their homes, in any event.
The lack of concern being shown by the government is in stark contrast to the UK where, relatively speaking, the numbers are not as frightening but which nonetheless has prompted the government into action since it has recognized that increased deaths and spread of the virus is now inevitable.
On 10th April of this year, the UK recorded 10,760 new cases. That number eventually dropped to 632 by 8th July. However, there has been a steep climb in new cases promoting concerns of a second wave. On 31st August, a total of 1,406 new cases were recorded but as of two days ago, this had spiked to 3,395 cases.
While the number of deaths is relatively low at this stage, the UK authorities know that with the increase in cases more deaths will arise. As such, there is now talk about a lockdown of the country next week. Some areas have already begun to tighten restrictions, including prohibiting private households from meeting one another in either private gardens or at homes. Countries like the UK have the services of epidemiologists who undertake modelling to predict the estimated number of infections and deaths.
It is not clear whether Guyana’s coronavirus response is guided by infectious diseases specialists. But it would be a travesty if it is not.
Most of the recent deaths in Guyana are the elderly. But there have been cases of matured persons, just over 50 and another case of a young person in his early 30s who have died.
The elderly should not be treated as expendables. Every life is important. The authorities have an obligation to ensure that every life is protected, young, middle-aged or elderly.
The large number of cases registered over the past weeks is going to result in increased deaths. But unless there is a lockdown of some sort, the number of infections will continue to rise and with it more deaths.
The government is therefore being extremely callous by not tightening the social restrictions. Just how does the government expect the total number of cases and deaths to be reduced when the same old social restrictions, which have been unable to stem the increases are still in place? The government is perhaps clueless, helpless or downright insensitive.
China, where the virus is believed to have originated, has shown what needs to be done to stop the flow of the virus. China implemented a total lockdown of certain provinces and this has worked.
Guyana needs to go that route or at least impose greater social restrictions. The people of Guyana are being led to the slaughter by the failure of the authorities to implement tighter social controls.
This is totally unacceptable and it is time for the people to begin to demand that at least the government protects the most vulnerable groupings; those over 45 years of age and those with underlying conditions. It is time to shutdown non-essential services and to encourage more persons to work from home.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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