2006 persons repatriated after COVID-19 struck

A total of 2006 persons who were stranded overseas have been repatriated to Guyana, ever since the borders were shut to safeguard the population against COVID-19.
Through collaboration with the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority and other stakeholders, the National COVID-19 Task Force is expected to broker agreements in the future, allowing more persons to be repatriated back home. Persons desirous of returning were informed that increased flights will be facilitated in the coming weeks.
Thus far, there have been flights from New York, Miami, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Canada, St Maarten, Jamaica, Suriname, Grenada and Curaçao.
Nevertheless, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Task Force Secretariat, Joseph Harmon explained that the manner in which they return must not endanger the health of the population.
“While we have been working to ensure that Guyanese at home are taken care of and remain safe during this period, we have also taken stock of the number of persons who were left stuck or stranded in different parts of the world. Some were without financial and other support, while others had family emergencies and other situations that they would have liked to be there for. So, we have decided that we must get our citizens home, but in a manner that still ensures we follow all the necessary protocols and does not jeopardise the health and wellbeing of anyone or everyone,” he said.
Director General of the GCAA, Lieutenant Colonel (ret’d) Egbert Field also noted that as soon as the location is decided, they will select a date and time. Final arrangements would be made to contact the appropriate airline. However, all repatriates must present a valid PCR test result.
“For North America, we can call upon Eastern Airlines and for the Caribbean, there is Caribbean Airlines. We then have to look at the paperwork for the aircraft to ensure they have all the appropriate systems in place. Once that has been settled, we must then look at the list of applications and ensure every person has a valid PCR test before they can be placed on the approved list to travel,” he explained.
Colonel Field noted that the GCAA is tasked with ensuring that the PCR tests are genuine and valid before passengers are given approval to travel. He noted that once this is done, the approved list is then sent off to the airline.
“The airline cannot sell a ticket to anyone outside of that approved list because everyone on that approved list would have gone through a process to ensure they are safe to travel. That is why we have such a stringent system in place. It is to ensure that someone cannot just go and purchase a ticket without undergoing the health and other checks that are in place. We have to ensure every citizen is safeguarded,” he said.. (G12)