Over 1300 Guyanese have returned to Guyana after being stranded overseas due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
This was according to Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Colonel Larry London during a virtual press briefing on Saturday.
With persons coming in from North America, St Marteen, Aruba, Trinidad and Barbados, he indicated that other flights will be facilitated in the coming weeks. On July 9, the first flight from Canada will land at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). On July 14 and 15, other flights from New York and Florida will arrive in Guyana.
London reiterated the decision to extend Phase One of the reopening plan, which means that the current setup will remain in place until the ending of July. After that, an assessment will be made to determine if the Second Phase should be employed.
Last Wednesday, it was announced that the Four-Phase Reopening Plan for the international airports in Guyana would be postponed owing to the spike in coronavirus cases. The second phase of the plan was expected to commence on July 1.
GCAA Director General Egbert Field had noted that the Authority and the NCTF considered the health of Guyanese and the nation as the top priority, thus, it was imperative to adjust the Four-Phase Reopening Plan. Under Phase One, limited repatriation flights, outgoing flights, cargo flights, medivac flights, technical stops, and special authorised flights will continue to be permitted.
In light of this, no airline has been granted approval for the conduct of scheduled commercial operation.
The GCAA said it has drafted Regulations and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to guide aviation stakeholders on the measures which are expected to aid in the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19 and the full resumption of aviation-related activities. The Authority in conjunction with the Public Health Ministry and the NCTF will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation.
The first batch of stranded Guyanese was repatriated on June 6 on a flight from Miami, USA. The Eastern Airlines flight landed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri, with 109 citizens who were all sanitised and screened upon entering the airport.
Once cleared, the passengers were then placed under home quarantine for seven days with representatives of the Public Health Ministry checking on their well-being on a daily basis through visits or telephone calls.
To be granted repatriation, passengers must undergo PCR testing which must return negative. They must also spend one week in quarantine at home after returning.
Last week, Chief Medical Officer Dr Shamdeo Persaud scolded Guyanese who are being repatriated for reportedly giving health officials false information upon their arrival in the country.
“This irresponsible and selfish act is putting your life and the lives of our citizens at risk and placing undue pressure on our health workers and health system,” the CMO contended.