40+ year-old persons to get COVID-19 vaccines from next week – President

…Govt aiming to vaccinate 10,000 per day

President Dr Irfaan Ali on Wednesday evening announced that persons 40 years and older will have access to COVID-19 vaccines in the coming week.

President Dr Irfaan Ali

Guyana launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign last month with focus on frontline health workers. The exercise was then expanded to cover persons 60 years old and over, and those with comorbidities.
In order to expand the programme, Government has since procured 200,000 doses of COVID vaccines through donations – 80,000 doses of AstraZeneca from India and another 20,000 doses of Sinopharm from China.
During a live broadcast to update the nation on the COVID-19 situation in Guyana, the Head of State revealed that since the vaccination campaign started, over 25,000 persons have been immunised in the country, and now Government is looking to further increase this number.
“Early in the new week, the vaccination programme will be expanded to all persons 40 years and older,” he announced.
According to President Ali, Government wants to have as many people as possible vaccinated, in order to achieve herd immunity in Guyana within the fastest possible timeframe. To this end, an integrated approach is being undertaken.
“The Government of Guyana is aggressively pursuing a strategy to vaccinate as many Guyanese as would be necessary to attain herd immunity, and eventually ensuring all Guyanese are vaccinated. Our goal is to vaccinate as many as 10,000 citizens per day,” he disclosed.
With Cabinet oversight, local government bodies, civil society, medical and nursing students, and the Medical Brigade of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) have all been roped in to achieve this goal. The President has said that these personnel would be trained to assist with the documentation of citizens so as to expedite the vaccination process.
“In the coming days, the Guyana Defence Force will provide support of 400 officers to expedite the registration of citizens. Students from medical and nursing programmes in Guyana will volunteer and lend support to this expanded and aggressive vaccination programme. All volunteers will also be vaccinated to limit their exposure to the COVID-19 virus,” the Commander-in-Chief noted.
Meanwhile, to further support the management and storage of the vaccines, the Health Ministry has engaged various private sector players with capacity to assist.
In addition to the 200,000 doses already procured, the Guyana Government is working aggressively to acquire another 200,000 COVID-19 jabs from various sources.
In fact, the Head of State revealed that his administration has been talking to countries and organisations since January of this year. These include the governments of India, Russia, China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE); as well as manufacturers and agencies, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), COVAX, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

Stepped-up enforcement
However, even as Government is working aggressively to ensure citizens are protected against the novel coronavirus, the National COVID-19 Task Force has also stepped-up enforcement, to bring more effect to the COVID-19 compliance.
“The COVID-19 Task Force has been advised to pursue charges against owners of establishments that are found in breach of the COVID-19 guidelines,” the President has posited.
Meanwhile, with several religious observances imminent – Phagwah on March 28, Easter on April 5, and Ramadhan in April to May – the Head of State has implored religious leaders and citizens to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 guidelines.
At present, there is a 40 per cent capacity for places of worship in Guyana. This same restriction is applied to indoor dining for restaurants and bars. However, there have been complaints of bars and night spots breaching this guideline, and several persons have also been charged.
“Whilst we’ve sought to strike balance between economy and help the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to be responsible. Businesses must understand that it is critical for them to adhere to 40 per cent occupancy, to adhere to the protocols that customers should follow whilst using their establishment, and to ensure that they protect their fellow Guyanese brothers and sisters,” President Ali has stressed.
Noting that the pandemic remains a serious national issue and a major global health concern, he further pleaded with persons to follow the guidelines.
“I urge you to continue to stay safe. I urge (you) to continue to protect your families and your community by adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. We are not ahead of the curve; we’re still managing this deadly pandemic. We need all stakeholders, all Guyanese, onboard… We have lost too many lives already. The Government is sparing no effort in ensuring that we get vaccinated as quickly as possible. But all of us have a responsibility to help in this process. I urge you to take seriously the guidelines of the COVID-19 Task Force as together we rally to ensure we get out of this pandemic as quickly as possible,” the Head of State has explained.

Border security
Moreover, President Ali noted that efforts have been taken to enhance border security.
“An expanded joint operation between Immigration, the army, Police, Regional COVID-19 Task Force Committees, the Private Sector and other members of civil society have been engaged with further securing our borders,” he stated.
This comes on the heels of growing concerns over Guyana’s porous border, especially with Brazil, where the COVID-19 pandemic has been ravaging the country. In fact, only Tuesday it was reported that the Portuguese nation’s daily COVID-19 death toll has passed 3,000, taking the number of fatalities to 298,676 since the start of the pandemic there.
The Takutu Bridge, the official land border between Guyana and Brazil, has been closed since March 2020. Subsequently, there was a partial, scheduled opening on Thursdays to allow for the exchange of goods under the supervision of authorities from both countries. However, in January this year, this was stopped following the outbreak of a new variant, or strain, of the virus in Brazil.
To date, Guyana has recorded some 221 fatalities from the novel coronavirus. The country has had 9,820 confirmed COVID-19 cases, but only 968 of these are currently active. (G8)