Apr 09, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Yesterday, Guyana reached 50,000 citizens vaccinated for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. This is about ten percent of our total eligible population or seven to eight percent of our total resident population, a significant milestone in our country’s effort to battle the unprecedented global pandemic that has not just upended public health systems across the world but which has also had fundamentally disruptive economic and technological impacts.
Yesterday was also a benchmark day for recorded daily infections, 135, although this might be attributable not so much to a spike in new infections but the increased testing undertaken by the Ministry of Health countrywide. Still, the monthly death rate shows a worrisome trend. With March of this year being, with 30 deaths, the third deadliest month since the pandemic began last March, this month, April, with just over a week in, promises to be the cruelest COVID month of all with 19 deaths already, an average now of little over two deaths per day. At the present rate, this month could easily surpass 60 deaths, significantly beating the previous monthly record of 44 deaths set by October of last year.
That said, the reality is that Guyana currently is not doing so badly when it comes to containing COVID-19 so far. Our per capita fatality rate (deaths/100k population) might not be anywhere close to virtual miracle countries like Tanzania which recorded 509 deaths out of a population of 58 million people, resulting in a 0.04 per capita fatality rate but our 252 deaths out of roughly 780,000 people puts us – with 32.5 deaths per 100,000 – at the lower end of the global scale. Consider, for example, that the global per capita fatality list is headed by the Czech Republic with 257.2 deaths per 100,000. Still, we lead the CARICOM Caribbean for similarly sized territories, not a statistic of prominence that we should be proud of.
The challenges in fighting the pandemic are complex and many. Access to vaccines, for example, comes with its own hurdles of finding enough vaccines to get at a time when rich, powerful countries are virtually hoarding the lion’s share, when the costs of vaccines when they are available threaten to put a dent in national coffers, when conspiracy-fueled misinformation abounds about unwarranted fears of the effects and even intent of the vaccine, and when there exists legitimate fears concerning actual documented effects of some vaccines, including blood clots.
All that said however, the key impediment to the people of Guyana combatting COVID-19 are the people themselves. As the government vaccination programme progresses, the country is seeing a correlative regression in citizen behavior, particularly when it comes to following basic COVID protocols. The use of the Guyana Defence Force in joint operations with the Guyana Police Force in what has been a soft enforcement approach for the gazetted pandemic restrictions has been met with mockery for no clear reason, this at a time when we’ve had the deadliest invading force ever to enter Guyana taking the lives of citizens of this country. Security forces seeking to break up parties have been attacked in various ways, whether by persons letting the air out vehicle tires or physically. We have a difficult challenge ahead of us, one that we can collectively overcome – we just have to decide to stop being our own worst enemy.
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