Pres Ali urges vaccination as concern about Omicron variant grows
…says vaccines are Guyana’s only chance to avert deaths, hospitalisations
With the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, slowly but surely making its rounds in various parts of the world, President Dr Irfaan Ali in a message to the nation on Monday, urged citizens to get vaccinated as the surest way to protect themselves against the variant.
According to the President, there is no shortage of COVID vaccines in Guyana. He also reminded that the Government has been working around the clock to ensure that enough vaccines are made available for the country to reach herd immunity, even as they await further details from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the variant.
“We are still awaiting further details from the WHO. But what I can say is that our only tool to be ahead of all these variants and all the mutations we are seeing is vaccination. If it is that this variant is far more infectious, then the only thing that can protect us is vaccination. The only thing that would slow hospitalisation and the death rate, is vaccination.”
“We have the vaccines available. So, my short answer to you as we adapt in this new way of living, in fighting all these variants, is to be vaccinated. There is only one way we can be ahead of fighting this pandemic. And that is to be vaccinated,” President Ali said.
President Ali further reiterated the statement made by Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, that booster shots are available. He explained that persons who are eligible for the booster shot include those 50 years and above and those 18 and over who have the comorbidities recognised by the WHO.
“Those who are qualified for the booster, make that decision, take the booster. This is our only chance of fighting off and being aggressively ahead of the impact of any variant on our country. Once you are in the category for booster, get your booster,” Dr Ali encouraged.
The Omicron variant has so far been detected in a number of countries including South Africa, Netherlands, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia. However, the WHO has issued a statement saying that it is unclear if the variant is more transmissible than preceding variants like Delta.
“Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalisations in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection,” the WHO said in its statement.
They did, however, urge countries to increase their vigilance and to report all initial cases or clusters to its office. Additionally, the world health body urged individuals to continue to take interpersonal steps to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus.
“The most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others; wear a well-fitting mask; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keep hands clean; cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue; and get vaccinated when it’s their turn,” the WHO said.
There are currently 1532 active cases of COVID-19 in Guyana. Of this number, 66 persons are hospitalised. Some 43 persons are at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Liliendaal. Some 28 pregnant women who tested positive are housed in a separate section of the facility.
In Guyana, 399,829 adults or 77.9 per cent have taken the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, 276,888 or 54 per cent have received a second dose. For children aged 12 to 17, a total of 29,088 first doses were administered with 20,270 second doses.
If anyone is displaying any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 or needs any additional information, they are asked to contact the COVID-19 Hotline 231-1166, 226-7480 or 624-6674 immediately or visit www.health.gov.gy.