Kaieteur News – A worried look was painted all across his face. I asked him what was the problem and he blurted out that he was concerned about the reopening of the Guyana-Suriname Ferry Service next week.
I queried why he was so worried. He said that he was worried about the spread of COVID-19 from Suriname since, according to him, Suriname was teeming with COVID-19 infections.
I had advised him that it was Suriname, which should be more worried. Because the COVID-19 situation in Guyana is far more worse than what exists in Suriname. In fact, Suriname has done remarkably well in combatting the pandemic.
The facts are that both Guyana and Suriname have about the same number of total cases. Guyana has 5,449 cases, while Suriname has registered 5,319. However, the main difference is that Suriname’s curve of total cases has begun to bend to the right while Guyana is showing no indication of a tapering off.
Suriname has only 117 deaths as compared to Guyana’s 151, which is about 25 percent less than Guyana’s. However, the most important statistic is the number of active cases. Suriname has a mere five active cases. The number of active cases in Guyana is 768. It is Suriname therefore which has to be more fearful of the resumption of the ferry service.
The COVID-19 pandemic is about to change. The approval, which has been granted in the United Kingdom for the vaccine, is a game-changer. The problem is that Guyana is not likely to get this vaccine until early in the New Year. Initially, only three percent of the population will receive the vaccine and later another 17 percent. The government is not saying how it intends to source the remaining vaccines for mass immunization.
The government has indicated that it is leaning towards first immunizing the elderly and persons with co-morbidities, rather than to having, frontline workers receive the jab first. The data would tend to support the government if it goes this route. The healthcare system is not overwhelmed. Only three cases are presently in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit. On the other hand, the majority of the deaths have been persons over 55 years. Therefore the elderly should be first in line, unless there is a dramatic change in circumstances in the next few weeks.
Not everyone will take the vaccine. There are people around the world who are insisting that they will not be taking the vaccine. And even some health care workers in Guyana are skeptical. So much for these person’s faith in science. At the start of the pandemic, this column did say that it will take science, not politics or social distancing, to stem the spread of this pandemic. And science has delivered a vaccine. Yet, people are scared to take the vaccine for fear of complications.
Many of those who are fearful of the vaccine can be seen walking around the place without masks on. There is still a great deal of slackness when it comes to abiding by the COVID-19 regulations. Persons can be seen not only without masks but also many persons are wearing their masks improperly. It appears now to be popular fad to wear the mask beneath your nose.
It appears that the only reason some persons are wearing masks is to be allowed entry into some business places. Once they are out of those places, the masks are either pulled down below their chins or set aside.
Guyanese are highly undisciplined. A few months ago, there was a protest over social restrictions in a community in Region One. Footage of the protest was shown on television. One man was protesting against the regulations. His placard read “There is no COVID-19.” Strangely, despite his non-belief in the pandemic, he was wearing a mask.
The reopening of the ferry service will be a great relief to small traders. Many of them peddle their goods between Guyana and Suriname and they use the ferry service. They will now be able to make some money.
But not withstanding that there should be put in place requirements for COVID-19 testing. No person should be allowed to use the ferry unless that person has been tested and has a certificate to show.
This will mean a cost to the small traders. But it is a small price to pay to ensure safety. It makes no sense asking persons coming through the airports to be first tested for COVID-19 when persons crossing by river will be allowed in without having a test. With antigen tests now available, the testing can be done right at the ferry terminals.
Guyanese should welcome the reopening of the ferry service. It is Suriname, which has to be worried, especially given the recent spike in cases in Region Six.
(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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