Ever since the new year dawned, Guyana has, unfortunately, consistently recorded increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases. Much of these have been attributed to the high number of social activities that occurred over the Christmas holidays, but even as we have gone past that ‘holiday’ period, persons are still acting and behaving irresponsibly when it comes to observing the COVID-19 guidelines. The non-adherence to precautions as outlined by Health officials has reached an all-time high, and there is need for stricter enforcement. So much is the disregard that parties are being hosted in direct contravention of the national curfew.
One such disregard ended with one life being lost on Tuesday morning, when a young man was shot and killed at a party hosted in Georgetown. Notably, the Police, in their investigation, reported that some 500 persons were in attendance at the fete. Now, this certainly shows that persons are still not taking the health guidelines issued by the authorities seriously. Not only are persons blatantly breaching the curfew, but, more importantly, a party with 500 persons was hosted in the heart of the city, and the Police were absent to disperse the crowd.
Every day, persons just go about their daily routine as if they are not bothered at all about COVID-19 and its deadly effect.
We have supported, and continue to support, the move by Government to make it mandatory for persons to wear masks while out in public, which was implemented since August 2020. Authorities have made it clear that it is not the Government’s intention to have persons locked up or fined for not wearing a mask while out in public.
Of note, too, is that even in cases where persons choose to wear a mask, they do not do so properly. Face masks should cover the nose, mouth, and chin. When not in use, the mask should be safely stowed away or discarded, and not be placed on any other part of the face or neck.
Mandatory mask-wearing and other preventative measures: handwashing/sanitising and social distancing, are the key measures to halt the severe impact of COVID-19.
With COVID-19 in Guyana, the Government, along with the various health partners, has wasted no time in stepping up the national response to contain the spread of the virus. However, citizens also have a role to play, and they must take that role seriously, or else the country would not be able to win the battle to control the virus.
The fact is, once the health guidelines to contain the spread of the virus are not taken seriously by citizens, the infection rates will continue to climb, and the country would take even longer before it could be fully reopened. This, we know, would have severe economic and social impacts on the country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from travelling in the air and on to other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. The CDC explains that this is called source control.
“This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth,” the CDC explains.
The CDC notes that COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet), so the use of masks is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other, or where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
The CDC has recommended that all persons two years of age and older wear a mask in public settings, and when around people who don’t live in their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
It must be noted, too, that COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. For this reason, it is important that everyone wears a mask in public settings and practise social distancing.
Everyone wants the virus to be contained, so that they can get on with their daily lives, but this would not be possible if citizens are complacent or continue to ignore the health guidelines.