Finding the right balance remains paramount as Guyana reopens airports
– implores citizens to follow protocols, guidelines to curb the spread of the virus
Georgetown, Guyana (October 13, 2020) – His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, while endorsing the reopening of the country’s two international airports, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the Eugene F. Correia International Airport, to commercial operations, implored citizens to follow the protocols in place to curb the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19). Guyana’s airports were reopened to commercial flights on October 12, 2020.
In a recent statement, the Head of State expressed confidence in the advice provided by the relevant authorities that Guyana is “fully prepared and ready to operate in a manner which will ensure the safety of all who work there and pass through them.”
The Head of State emphasised that while everything is being done within means and with the assistance of the international community, to bring the virus under control it is as equally important to keep the economy functioning and growing.
On this note, the Head of State reiterated the importance of striking a balance between medical and socio-economic aspects of reopening the economy.
“We have recently seen new studies showing that lockdown may not be the best way. What we have to do as leaders is to find the right balance and ensure that coming out of the pandemic, we do not head into severe economic recession. We already have a situation where the economy has been affected tremendously. What we are doing is basically trying to find the balance while operating, managing and living in Covid environment. We have to also ensure that we develop strong protocols and guidelines and to have persons follow, stringently, those guidelines, so that these can be the buffer that gives us an opportunity to rebalance the way we deal with this, from a medical as well as a socio-economic perspective,” the President explained.
The decision to reopen the country’s airports was made just as the World Health Organization (WHO) called for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies as the primary means of control of the virus.
On October 11, Dr David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus. He claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty. Dr Nabarro said such restrictive measures should only be treated as a last resort.
“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.
The WHO representative emphasised the opinion expressed by many public experts: the way to tackle the Covid-19 is through layering various policies and interventions in a coordinated, organised manner. He continued by saying, “The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”
Over the last few months, President Ali has advocated for the need to strike a crucial balance in dealing with the pandemic.
“The balance requires very strong protocols, and I think, therein lies the trick to this pandemic; the protocols and enforcing the protocols. Now, we can move to reopening once we have strong protocols that can be enforced, and once we have the institutional mechanism to support those protocols,” the President said.
During an emergency multi-stakeholder meeting in August, the President assured that any decision taken to reopen the airports would only be made after careful consideration of all of the factors.
President Ali continues to engage with world leaders with regards to collaboration and support to enhancing Guyana’s response to Covid-19. Measures discussed include enhancing Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing capacity and the provision of equipment and vaccines.
Guyana’s fight against the spread of the Covid-19 has been bolstered by an increase in testing and contact-tracing, in addition to a strong sensitisation and education campaign.
President Ali continues to lead the country’s Covid-19 sensitisation initiative. Over the weekend, he was accompanied by Government Ministers on visits to several communities across the country to sensitise citizens about the pandemic, and to urge them to wear a mask and take seriously other measures to protect themselves and their families.