President Ali urges vaccination amid new Covid variant
─ “only thing that will save us”
His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has charged Guyanese and foreign nationals living in the country to be vaccinated, in the face of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, which scientists say may be highly transmissible.
While the infection rate of the new strain of the virus increases, Dr. Ali affirmed that the only way Guyana’s population could be protected is through vaccination.
“Our only tool to be ahead of all these variants, all the changes, the mutations that we are seeing is vaccination. If it is that this variant is far more infectious, the only thing that will save us is vaccination. The only thing that will slow hospitalisation is vaccination. The only thing that will slow death rate successfully is vaccination,” the Guyanese leader said in a Facebook message Monday.
President Ali assured there is no shortage of Covid vaccines in Guyana, as the government has been working around-the-clock to ensure vaccines are available for the country to reach herd immunity.
He reiterated the statement of Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, MP, that booster shots are available. Those eligible for booster shots are persons 50 years and above and those from 18 years and older who have comorbidities as listed by the World Health Organisation.
“Those who are qualified for the booster, make that decision, take the booster. This is our only chance of fighting off and being aggressively ahead of the impact of any variant on our country. Once you are in the category for booster, get your booster,” Dr. Ali encouraged.
The Omicron variant has been detected in a number of countries including South Africa, Netherlands, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia.
The World Health Organisation, (WHO) says it is unclear whether it is more transmissible than the other variants such as Delta, or if it was first detected in Southern Africa.
The WHO said in a statement, “preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalisations in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection.”
The WHO also urged countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing of cases and to report initial cases or clusters to its office.
It also advised individuals to continue observing the WHO approved Covid safety measures.
“The most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others; wear a well-fitting mask; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keep hands clean; cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue; and get vaccinated when it’s their turn.”
As of Sunday, 399,829 adults took the first dose of a Covid vaccine, while 276,888 returned for the second dose. For adolescents, 29,088 have been inoculated with the first dose, and 20,270 with the second vaccine. Persons have also been responding positively to the rollout of the booster shots.