Process interrupted after APNU/AFC counting agent started coughing
…everyone screened for COVID-19 amid recount
Doctors manning the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) for the National Recount of the votes cast on March 2, last were called in to screen one of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) agents for the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19), momentarily interrupting the exercise at that station.
This, since according to reports, the agent began coughing ‘uncontrollably’, causing those in proximity to raise an alarm.
The incident was subsequently confirmed by Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Ward, during a media briefing on Tuesday. Reporters at the ACCC venue were told, “one of the agents was coughing repeatedly in the work station.”
This, she said, led to an objection by another agent “and so the doctors that we have on-site was asked to make a visit.”
Ward told reporters that the doctors advised that based on their examination, the woman displayed symptoms consistent with a ‘cold.’ The GECOM PRO indicated that it was not a case where other persons in the vicinity were screened.
Downplaying the incident, Ward said it did not cause a major interruption and that the work station broke for lunch at the time.
Guyana Times understands that the agent screened by the doctors on site is APNU/AFC candidate, Shonelle Smith-Daniels—daughter of controversial APNU/AFC agent, Carol Joseph.
The woman in a subsequent public post confirmed that she was, in fact, displaying symptoms at the counting station. According to Smith-Daniels in the post, “I have a cold which if I cough you can hear (not the only one in the room).”
She claimed that while on the way to the ACCC that morning, “I got soaked and some persons will know that usually, u [sic] will sneeze when that happens.”
The woman said that following audible complaints, the station supervisor “announced that the doctors are coming to do some tests because a complaint was made that an agent is sneezing.”
According to the woman, she was “asked to take a few days to which I agreed because I understand that they are doing their job and won’t want to make things hard on them.”
The woman concluded her post proclaiming “I am PNC [People’s National Congress]…I will not be moved.”
Tuesday’s incident comes days after Chairman for A New and United Guyana (ANUG) Timothy Jonas was written to by the Ministry of Public Health advising that he had been reported to be displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
He had denounced the move as a sinister attempt to sideline him from the recount process.
The recount exercise from the inception has been steered in part by the COVID-19 measures and national lockdown that had been ordered by caretaker President David Granger.
The ACCC had been restricted in the number of personnel and work stations it could use at the venue by the COVID-19 Task Force.
Public observers are of the belief that the stunt pulled by Smith-Daniels—daughter of controversial APNU/AFC agent, Carol Joseph is a mean to create havoc during the recount process. They made reference to the several bomb scares at the Ashmins building during the tabulation of the March 2, General and Regional Elections votes.
It actually turned out that there were no threats and the bomb scares were pranks to disrupt the process.
Meanwhile, in the case on Tuesday at the ACCC, GECOM in following recommendations from the Task Force subsequently instituted a number of COVID-19-related measures including restricting its working hours, adherence to social distancing guidelines—which limited each work station to 14 persons—and regular sanitisation and use of face masks, among others.
The Task Force has since been called on by the Commission, to yet again, pronounce on the use of the venue, this time to ascertain whether additional work stations can be housed in the facility in order to accelerate the recount exercise.
Its members are expected to give that pronouncement today, when public health officials from the Task Force conduct another round of surveillance at ACCC.