Strict monitoring, screening at Guyana’s borders in wake of COVID-19

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Minister of Public Security, Hon. Khemraj Ramjattan said stricter monitoring and screening measures have been implemented at Guyana’s borders in wake of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Speaking on the COVID-19 National Update programme on NCN  this evening, Minister Ramjatta, disclosed that he has instructed that the Guyana Police Force in collaboration with the Guyana Defence Force be more proactive in monitoring communities in Regions 1 and 7 which share a border with Venezuela; in Region 9 which shares a border with Brazil, and Region 6 with Suriname.

Ramjattan

Minister of Public Security, Hon. Khemraj Ramjattan.

“We have asked our law enforcement officers to monitor persons, and if persons are coming, they should check with the port health authorities. We must have the names of these persons in the systems,” he said.

The Minister also explained that people who are entering Guyana through these areas are to be screened by the Port Health Authorities for the disease. Testing will also be done at Kurupukari to monitor persons leaving and entering Lethem and other parts of Region 9.

In the case of the Suriname border at Moleson Creek, Minister Ramjattan noted the challenges of ‘backtrackers’ traversing the area with passengers.  The ministry has engaged Suriname officials on monitoring the exit points from that country. Similarly, penalties will be levied on those caught in the act in Guyana.

“…I have received reports that the backtrackers are using boats to ferry passengers to and from Suriname…I have instructed here in Guyana that we must seize some of these boats and engines where Guyanese are doing this illegal activity.”

He added, “with the backtrackers, you do not know if anyone has the coronavirus and these backtrackers are involved for the profiteering motives… the same thing is happening in Region 1 and 7.”

The minister admitted that even with the health ports and other health facilities at those areas, the issue will be problematic if those border areas are not properly monitored. He added that everyone has a role to play to control the epidemic in Guyana.

“We will be in serious problems unless everybody ensures they play their role here and the self-discipline is what is required to beat it in paucity-stricken societies such as Guyana.”

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.

On March 11 2020, the World Health Organisation categorised the disease was a pandemic.

Thus far, five persons have tested positive for the virus in Guyana. The Government of Guyana has been implementing a number of measures to prevent and control this disease.

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