Health Minister refutes erroneous APNU/AFC press release concerning Mr. Jones’ COVID-19 test and attendance at Parliament

Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony views with great concern the contents of an erroneous press release issued by A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) regarding the attendance of Mr. Christopher Jones at the First Sitting of the 12th Parliament on September 1, 2020.

In view of Government’s efforts to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Guyana, in particular, and for the safety of all Guyanese, in general, the Minister wishes to set the record straight in order to correct the misinformation being peddled by APNU/AFC.

On August 31, 2020, the Minister received a letter from Parliament Office, requesting that persons who test positive for Covid-19 do not appear in person in Parliament, but that they instead appear remotely via video conference. This letter was sent to each Member of Parliament, hence Mr. Jones also received a copy.

It was while participating physically in the proceedings that it was brought to the Dr. Anthony’s attention that Messrs. Jones and Sherod Duncan, another Member of Parliament in attendance, both underwent Covid-19 tests, the results for which were made available to them on August 23 and 26, respectively.

At no time did the Minister indicate to anyone that Mr. Jones had tested positive for Covid-19, nor did he describe the disease as “dreaded” at any time.

Since both Messrs. Jones and Duncan, who also received a copy of the letter from Parliament Office, were found to be positive, they were strictly advised to self-isolate, starting from the date they received their test results for at least 13 days, and the last of these must be symptom-free, before discharge from quarantine.

In relation to Mr. Jones, his self-isolation period would come to an end on September 4, while for Mr. Duncan, his last day in self-isolation would be on September 7, assuming the last three days for both of them are symptom-free.

To the Minister’s utter disbelief, they were participating in person in the National Assembly’s proceedings and in fact mingling with a number of persons outside of the Parliament Chambers.

In so doing, both Messrs.  Jones and Duncan have recklessly, irresponsibly and intentionally exposed the entire National Assembly, all parliamentary staff present, the press corps, the catering and janitorial staff, the security personnel and all other persons present at and within the precincts of the Sitting, to the danger of being infected with Covid-19.

Further, Messrs. Jones and Duncan have violated the Covid-19 Guidelines currently in force and Section 34 of the Public Health Ordinance, which states that:

  1. If any person knows that he is suffering from an infectious disease, he shall not engage in any occupation or carry on any trade or business unless he can do so without risk of spreading the infectious disease.
  2. If any person acts in contravention of this section, he shall be guilty of an offence.

It would be remiss of me, in the performance of my duties as Minister of Health were I not to convey this information to you. 

It is therefore out of respect for the lawful execution of his duties as Minister of Health that this information is being made public. The Minister has also communicated likewise in a letter to the Parliament Office.