Kaieteur News – Civil society and opposition political parties should join and demand the immediate revamping of the government’s COVID-19 response strategy. That plan is not working and it is high time that the government acknowledges the strategy’s failure.
Since the start of this year, there has been a frightening increase in the number of new cases. So far for this month, Guyana is averaging a staggering 40 cases per day. This is more than 30 percent above the daily average recorded for December.
The situation is not improving. The daily average has remained above 40 cases for September, October and November. In December, there was a decline but the daily average has once again climbed to more than 40 cases per day.
The number of active cases, which was looking promising at 355 cases has more than doubled in recent weeks. As at yesterday, the number of active cases was 754.
The rapid increases in new cases this month point to the need for the government to verify quickly whether there is a new variant. If this turns out to be so, then we can expect even more deaths.
Guyana has a staggering death rate of 2.5 deaths per every 100 persons infected. For January so far, there have been 1,138 new cases. We can consider ourselves lucky if over the next two weeks, there is not a massive spike in deaths.
If the new variant of the virus is in Guyana, God help us! The deaths and infections will rise further and faster.
The PPP/C like the APNU+AFC has adopted the foolish excuse that people must be more responsible. Of course, people should be more responsible. But is the purpose of government not to enforce such responsibility?
What is the purpose of having social restrictions? It is to ensure that people comply so as to achieve the objectives which are intended. Government therefore is being absurd when it continues to demand that people observe social restrictions, knowing that it has done little to enforce these restrictions.
Ironically, the government remains the biggest violator of its own social restrictions, holding massive gatherings with large numbers of persons present without adequate social distancing.
Yet, supporters and non-supporters of the government continue to call for citizens to act more responsibly. Sure they do, but government also needs to be taking action when citizens do not and also to implement things such as lockdowns in order to quell spikes of new cases.
The government’s argument against a lockdown is because people and business will suffer. They point to the five-month period in which businesses were closed during the election impasse and with very low testing as having contributed to a situation in which the internal economy could have flat lined.
However, the government fails to recognize that lockdown is one of the few options available for it to safeguard the economic health of the country. Vaccinations will not stop the pandemic.
The number of vaccines, which we will receive initially under COVAX may just be enough to inoculate healthcare workers. And given that the high-risk age group in Guyana starts from 55 years – unlike other countries which starts at 65 years – there will be an initial need for far more vaccines than we will be obtaining from COVAX.
Lockdowns implemented decisively and enforced strictly will help save the economy. If the present number of new cases continue, not even vaccinating the entire country will save us. There has to be dramatic slowing down of the new infections over the next few months if Guyana is to avoid having to shut the entire country down.
The Barbadian government is not making excuses. It has agreed to a lockdown. Barbados is going on a two-week lockdown from next Wednesday. It has had more than 1,000 new cases for January, which is far less than what we have had. But it is taking decisive action.
It may surprise many Guyanese that Barbados, as at Jan. 27, had 1,443 cases, compared to the more than 7,000 cases of Guyana. It has 10 deaths compared to Guyana’s 175.
Yet, unlike our slack governments, the Barbadian government is moving swiftly to ensure that what has happened in Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica will not happen there.
That is called leadership. We prefer to hang on to the sinking ship, which we call our governments.
(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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