Businesses willing to assist GECOM with 33,000 masks – GCCI

…but Private Sector questions science, rationale behind directive

Over a week ago, the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) had directed that observers coming to Guyana to oversee the recount will have to be quarantined in light of COVID-19. That decision has since been overturned. Now, in another bizarre directive, the Task Force has recommended to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) that persons involved in the national recount need to change their face mask every 30-60 minutes. That, therefore, means that GECOM would need 33,000 to 66,000 masks to conduct the recount.
In an interview with Guyana Times, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President Nicholas Boyer indicated that members of the business community would be willing to contribute to the quantity of masks required.
At the same time, he questioned what science or rationale guided the NCTF in coming up with this recommendation. Boyer pointed out that even Guyana’s health workers battling COVID-19 on the frontlines did not have the luxury of changing their masks every hour.
“We are ready to supply the number of masks, no problem. But what I don’t like is that they’re holding GECOM to a different standard than the Ministry of Health. Most frontline workers are not using that type of protocol, because if the Ministry of Health frontline workers were using that protocol, you know how many masks we would need?
“Have they (NCTF) been advised by the Chief Medical Officer or Deputy Chief Medical Officer? How was this standard arrived at, when I know for sure it’s not being used in the hospital? Because if it is, the hospitals are woefully unprepared. Because they don’t have enough.”

Private Sector Commission (PSC) Chairman, Retired Captain Gerry Gouveia shared similar sentiments. According to Gouveia, pronouncements from the NCTF must be guided by science, not guesswork.
“Even surgeons and frontline medical staff don’t change their masks every 30 minutes. They have masks that are used for eight hours. So, I don’t know. This should be based on science and I would probably want to ask them to explain to us the science behind that recommendation for (GECOM staff) to change masks every 30 minutes.
“The Task Force made the recommendation, so they need to explain to this nation what is the science. Everything to do with COVID, is to do with science. All the circumstances, quarantining people, testing people, has to do with science. It’s not an opinion, it’s not what you think.”
News reports surfacing on Tuesday indicated that the Task Force has recommended to the Commission that personnel involved in the recount process be outfitted with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), namely, face masks, to reduce the possibility of transmission of the virus.
The directive has prompted criticism, with People’s Progressive Party (PPP) nominated GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj lamenting the guidelines that have been proposed by the NCTF.
In questioning the Task Force’s reasoning behind the recommendation, Gunraj referenced that Caribbean Community (Caricom) Chairperson Mia Mottley, on March 17 – following a decision to leave Guyana after the work of the high-level delegation had been frustrated by a court challenge – observed that there were forces in Guyana against the recount.