Porous Region One border poses serious COVID-19 threat

—Screening points established

—CMO calls on residents to be vigilant

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Barima-Waini region, located in the northwestern part of Guyana is at greater risk of positive COVID-19 cases being imported from Venezuela. This is because of the porous borders that Guyana shares with neighbouring Venezuela.

The region has currently recorded three confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus; of these cases, one person has recovered, one succumbed to the disease and the other currently in institutional isolation.

As of May 28, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that Venezuela has a total of 1,245 positive COVID-19 cases.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud who provided Thursday’s COVID-19 update, appealed to residents to be vigilant and help to ensure that unofficial crossings are stopped.

“Residents of Region One and particularly our miners, I appeal to you to take extra care and adhere to the guidelines for mining in order to protect your families and friends. Please report if you have information about non-nationals entering your region especially now that the border is closed. The non-official crossings are adding to the burden of surveillance,” he stated.

Regional Health Officer, Dr. Steven Cheefoon explained that a screening point has been established at Morwhanna Village – the only official entry point from Venezuela.

However, he added that the several unofficial crossing points have been identified and screening points have also been set up in these areas.

At these checkpoints, information is collected from each person screened which will help the regional health department in the future with contact tracing. Added to these measures, screening points have been established at the airstrips and all hospitals in the region.

Public facilities also undergo continuous sanitisation.

“All wet markets throughout Mabaruma, Matarkai and in Moruca also are sanitised. We have also begun sanitation exercises at schools and all public buildings. This is to ensure that you are safe at all times,” the RHO said.

Barima-Waini has seven isolation facilities; these are located at Baramita, Matthew’s Ridge, Port Kaituma, Mabaruma, Santa Rosa, Kwebanna and Waramuri.  Twenty-seven persons from the region have thus far been tested.

Meanwhile, sensitisation efforts continue in the region. “We ask that everybody adhere to the guidelines set up by the Ministry of Public Health and the National COVID-19 Task Force because you staying safe is ensuring that the entire community stay safe,” Dr. Cheefoon appealed.