17 Guyanese who arrived on chartered flight from Barbados quarantined
A group of Guyanese who arrived on a chartered flight from Barbados on Wednesday evening have been quarantined at a location on the Linden/Soesdyke Highway.
In a statement made late Wednesday evening following media reports, the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) said a group of Guyanese who have been stranded in Barbados made representation through various means to the NCTF, and sought permission for a flight to repatriate them to Guyana.
Authorities here had shut down the two international airports – CJIA and Eugene F. Correia — last week following confirmation of Guyana’s first imported case on March 11.
“The ‘mercy request’ was considered by the NCTF, and permission was granted on the condition that all the persons must submit themselves to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) protocols, and that this included, but was not limited to, screening and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period at a government facility. It was specifically explained that the quarantine will not be either ‘self-quarantine’ or ‘home quarantine’. It was further explained that, should the need arise, the quarantine period could be extended,” the missive stated.
Guyana Times understands that the group, which included 14 adults and three children, chartered a Trans-Guyana Airways aircraft by pooling their finances to cover the flight cost. Upon arrival at the Eugene F. Correia Airport at about 19:00h on Wednesday, they were immediately escorted to a location on the Linden/Soesdyke Highway.
However, some of these persons have complained about the conditions in which they are being placed to stay over the next two weeks.
A relative of one of them told this newspaper that there are not adequate arrangements in place at the quarantine facility to accommodate the group that arrived. In fact, it was noted that that group is being made to stay with persons who were already there, three of whom appeared sick.
“They are all in one open dorm. So, the sick and the ‘well’ and everybody(are) together in one open area… Whether you sick or not, they have to stay there for 14 days,” the relative explained.
This publication was told that while the males and females have separate sleeping quarters, there are two bathrooms and two toilets, with only one functioning sink, for everyone to use. It was noted that they all have to use the same utensils.
Some of the persons who came in on the flight do not have necessities, such as towels, as they were allowed to fly only a 20-pound luggage on the light aircraft.
“There is not proper accommodation. So, if anybody in there is sick [with the coronavirus], everybody will get sick…and this is my fear,” the relative argued.
This publication understands that most of those persons came from the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus, and although the university is closed because of the COVID-19, the students – some of whom are in their final year – are still required to complete their assignments and papers to submit at a deadline. However, there are no facilities there at the quarantine location for them to work.
The relative related that since they were told of the quarantined arrangements, around 17:30h before the flight took off from Barbados, they have tried contacting health authorities, but are only being told that the quarantine arrangements are “secret”.
Earlier on Wednesday, caretaker Health Minister Volda Lawrence confirmed that four persons, including a child, are infected with the novel coronavirus, and are in isolation while another nine are quarantined.