One day after the Public Health Ministry conducted a single coronavirus (COVID-19) test, and that result came back negative, there has been a record high of 11 new cases in Guyana. This has been the highest number of cases in 24 hours for Guyana since the virus was first detected here in March.
The increase in cases also comes on the same day that the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) submitted a four-stage blueprint for the reopening of the country’s airports to the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) for review. With COVID-19 cases increasing daily, there are calls being made for health authorities of the various countries, including Guyana, to accelerate and expand testing in order to obtain a clearer view of where the virus is circulating, and how many people have been infected.
Health experts have underlined increased testing as one of the key actions that could be taken to win the battle against the deadly pandemic. Accelerating and expanding testing is very crucial to better guiding policy-makers, health partners, and health-care workers to contain the spread of the virus.
We have seen, in countries around the world where testing took a long time to take off, how the virus was able to spread rapidly. Guyana’s next door neighbour, Brazil, is one of those countries. Brazil has recorded 1,086 new deaths from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours. The casualties have now brought the total number of deaths to 25,598. With 20,599 new cases, the number of infected people in Brazil is now 411,821.
Other countries, like Germany and New Zealand, have reported huge success rates, as they were able to test and isolate far more widely than others. They also rapidly stockpiled kits and made the test available to a larger number of labs, which allowed for more persons to be tested and diagnosed early.
Here, in Guyana, with our porous borders and the vulnerability of persons fleeing their countries to seek refuge here, it is imperative that we test continuously. This would enable early diagnosis and establish how far the virus has spread, so that before others are infected, the authorities could isolate and track those persons who may have come into contact with someone who has tested positive.
As this newspaper had previously said, information garnered from testing could also be very useful in helping health-care partners plan to deal with the demand for intensive care units and other critical medical supplies.
While the Public Health Ministry has revealed some communities in which persons were tested positive, it is critical that, every time these positive results are returned, the country is aware which communities these were detected in. This would greatly assist persons in those areas to take better precautions.
As a matter of fact, on Thursday, Guyana’s caretaker President, David Granger, told a high-level United Nations meeting, which aims to advance concrete solutions to the development emergency for the COVID-19 crisis, that the country has been strained to protect its population from the COVID-19 pandemic. This, he said, is as a result of migrants seeking refuge entering Guyana, and the need to divert our revenue to support them; and, as such, this has impacted the state’s ability to protect its people from disease.
Our caretaker President shied away from mentioning that Guyana has its oil money sitting in a United States bank account, and it can be used to assist Guyanese greatly affected by the virus; but this cannot be accessed because of the chaos the ANPU/AFC created following the March 2 General and Regional Elections, in which there was an attempt to rig Guyana’s elections with fraudulent declarations made by Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo.
Until the National Elections Recount results are declared by the Guyana Elections Commission, Guyanese are at the mercy of a Government that has implemented very minimal assistance measures. We reiterate that Guyanese would continue to face even more severe hardships, as the Government seems to be deaf to the pleas of citizens for assistance. Limited testing would only compound the situation; the need for more testing cannot be over-emphasised.