May 04, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – If the world doesn’t stop the region’s surging caseload, it could cost us all that we’ve done to fight the pandemic. Those were the words of one health official (“After a year of loss, South America suffers worst death tolls yet” New York Times, April 29). It is bad and threatening to get much worse very soon in the region. Yet, it seems as though our own Guyanese government authorities are taking this with a yawn and treating it as though it is just a regular day in life.
It is not; and though the sitting government has pushed aggressively and right ahead with widespread vaccination efforts, there is so much more that it can put in place right now, but which it somehow inexplicably refuses to do. It is no movement towards the protective steps that are so necessary and plain straightforward commonsense, except that there is no budging. Whatever may be responsible for the delay in decision-making by the Hon. Minister and his chief medical advisors, this is playing with fire and the lives of all of us, given our frail healthcare system. A frail healthcare system is one of the regional plagues that adds to this virus that is now of undeniable pandemic proportions. In this region, it is galloping in runaway fashion and in a freefall.
In the capital of Columbia, Bogota, the mayor is warning residents to brace for “the worst two weeks of our lives.” “Uruguay, once lauded as a model for keeping the virus under control, now has one of the highest death rates in the world” and, as the New York Times April 29 article under reference goes on to report, “the grim daily tallies of the dead have hit records in Argentina, Brazil, Columbia and Peru in recent days.” Because of all of this occurring with such frightening intensity close to our own backyard, we are perplexed and uncomfortable that the Hon. Minister of Health and his government stand at a distance and make a pretense being in control, knowing what is going on and having all the answers.
We at this paper register our disagreement and disapproval with what government is doing here in the teeth of increasing deaths on a daily basis and increasing numbers of confirmed cases. As we see it and judge it, what the government is doing is not enough, far from it. That is, in the tough decisions that must be made. Such as extending curfew hours immediately from 6pm to 6am until further notice and when a better handle would have been had on what is truly the state in which we are in, in the light of recent developments. Prime Minister, Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago has moved with rapidity and authority to lockdown his society. That could not have been an easy step, given the state of the nation’s economy, and its dependency on open and free movement to and from Trinidad. But it was done, since the first consideration is protecting the lives of citizens.
We would like to see and hear of such urgent and decisive leadership actions here now. We call upon President, Dr. Ali and Health Minister, Dr. Anthony to get real and get going in doing the right thing. Start with that curfew and continue with immediate cessation of all outdoor dining and gatherings. Public spaces, like places of worship should be severely limited to as a low as 20 percent of their capacity, and with strict adherence to all standing Task Force COVID-19 rules and protocols.
As the New York Times reminded us, some of the more well vaccinated and wealthier countries of the world “cautiously envision” life after the pandemic. In contrast, while those visions take hold in pockets around the world, “the crisis in Latin and South America in particular – is taking an alarming turn for the worse.” Just last week, “Latin America accounted for 35 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the world, despite having only eight percent of the global population.” And in what should be of extraordinary importance to the Government of Guyana, Guyanese health officials and all Guyanese citizens, is our reality of “living side-by-side with Brazil…whose president has consistently dismissed the threat of the virus and denounced measures to control it, helping fuel a dangerous variant that is now stalking the entire continent.”
We know that the Guyana Government and its Minister of Health know all this very well. What we don’t know and cannot understand, is why there is this sloth. Why is there this unmoving indifference? To repeat the obvious: this is most dangerous.
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