Jan 18, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Guyana is yet to restrict flights from the United Kingdom (UK) even though a new strain of the COVID-19 virus has been detected there. In fact, the UK has already restricted flights from Guyana after another strain of the virus was recently detected in Brazil, Guyana’s immediate neighbour to the South and South-west.
Research indicates that the UK’s new strain was detected since late November last year and many countries including Canada, Russia, Germany (and other countries in Europe), Jamaica, Grenada and several South American countries would have restricted flights from the UK to avoid the presence of the new strain in their countries.
The government of Guyana had learnt of the virus since last December and the Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony had acknowledged the travel restrictions imposed by those countries. Be that as it may, a definitive decision to restrict flights was not made then. Instead, he had stated that the government would be awaiting guidance from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) before restricting any flights.
Anthony said that CARPHA recommended that they observe the situation and get more scientific information before making a decision. “Once we confirm some of the mutations and understand the impact that these mutations may have, then we’ll be able to make a more definitive pronouncement,” Dr. Anthony had said.
But he later announced last week that CARPHA has not recommended a restriction on travel to and from the United Kingdom. “CARPHA has been working with all the member states to discuss this variant and the very first meeting after the UK announced it, CARPHA explained what was the latest information they had and what steps should be taken. That advice did not include shutting down any kind of transportation arrangement between the UK, and other countries,” Minister Anthony noted.
Further, he had noted that individual member states can use their prerogatives to make decisions relating to the matter that best suit their interests and needs, but, Guyana will continue to rely on CARPHA for guidance.
That information was not received well by many members of the public who questioned why Guyana has to rely on a regional body for advice when the new strain is clearly a health hazard. Persons even took to social media to blast the government’s approach to the new strain of the virus saying that Guyana often takes a lackadaisical approach to situations until they get worse.
It was also noted that Guyana cannot test for the new strain of the virus, which some believe underscores the need to restrict flights from the UK.
The new strain which was found to be highly contagious, meaning that it spreads more easily and at a faster pace, requires genetic sequencing to be identified, and Guyana’s private and public health system is incapable of doing such. The only means of identifying the new strain here is by sending test samples to CARPHA for it to conduct the testing, which was stated by Minister Anthony.
Last Thursday, the UK imposed a travel ban on several South American countries (Guyana included) due to another variant of the virus found in Brazil and their proximity to the country. This was done to avoid the spread of that variant in the UK since the country already has another variant on its hands. A statement from their Department of Transport read, “From 4am Friday, January 15, 2021, passengers who have been in or transited through Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Panama, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela in the last 10 days will no longer be granted access to the UK.”
Additionally, the UK will also suspend all travel corridors effective from 04:00 am today. A travel corridor usually allows persons travelling from countries on the travel corridor list to enter without self-isolating, but now every incoming passenger in the UK will be legally required to self isolate for 10 days.
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