By Vanessa Braithwaite
THE Linden Mayor and Town Council, in collaboration with a newly formed Regional Health Emergency Committee, has imposed a mandatory curfew that will be implemented in all communities of Region 10, from Saturday, March 28.
Communities that will see strict monitoring of the curfew, which is from 05:00 hrs to 20:00 hrs for regular citizens, will be done by law enforcement officers in Linden, Kwakwani, Ituni, Aroaima, Mabura, Rock Stone, Anarika, 48 and 57 Miles. Persons failing to adhere to this mandatory curfew may be subjected to detention.
A release from the Linden Mayor and Town Council stated that “all citizens with the exception of essential workers with ID (nurses, police, military, GPL and GWI crew), must be in their homes from 8 pm to 5 am. Citizens found on the streets may be detained.”
The release also stated that all businesses must be closed from 06:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs, with the exception of supermarkets and pharmacies, which are expected to close at 19:00 hrs. All restaurants and bars are restricted to delivery and eat-out services only. Owners failing to comply may be subjected to sanctions.
While citizens are free to go about their daily activities during the permitted time, the members of the committee urge them to practise social distancing and sanitary practices at all times.
The Regional Health Emergency Committee comprises municipal, regional, health, fire and disciplined services officials. Members form part of sub-committees with responsibility for health and welfare, safety and security, business and transportation and communication and logistics. The committee functions round- the-clock and the full team is expected to meet every 48 hrs.
While there are no suspected cases of COVID-19 in Region 10, the officials are adamant that a proactive approach be taken in fighting against the pandemic. Region 10 is deemed a hot-spot region, since it is the gateway to several interior locations, including Lethem, all of which have porous borders leading to Brazil. Brazil has several reported cases of the coronavirus.
In addition, there are at least three Lindeners who travelled to Guyana on Wednesday evening from Barbados, under mandatory quarantine at a Ministry of Public Health facility.
Any resident of Region 10 experiencing symptoms are urged to contact hotline numbers on 4446137 and 4446127.
The committee had already taken a position to set up quarantine rooms at the medical facilities in the region.
Despite being cash-strapped, the Regional Democratic Council is ensuring emergency funding is set aside to deal with the situation.
The RDC, being an administrative hub in Mackenzie, which sees scores of persons frequenting daily, has also installed sinks in its compound for staff members and visitors to wash their hands before entering the building.
All social activities for this period have been cancelled, including the Linden Town Week 2020 and Linden’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Meanwhile, residents of Linden welcomed the move by officials to initiate the mandatory curfew and have promised to comply. Market vendor, Keshawn Gomes, said he was already closing earlier than usual but noted that not all vendors were doing the same.
“I think it is a good thing. I was already playing my part because safety comes before money. I think it is a very, very good thing that they implemented,” he said.
Former member of Parliament, Jermaine Figueira, who owns a bar, said he had already taken the initiative to shut its doors to set the example of social distancing because lives are more important than business. He is urging other bar owners to follow the rules of the lock-down.
Figueira is also calling on NGOs, stakeholders and other corporate organisations to contribute tangibly to the region’s proactive fight against COVID-19.
On Wednesday, he took the cap of country representative of Caring for Others and made a tangible and timely donation of several apparatus and medical supplies to the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC). The items that were donated in bulk included hand soaps, syringes, gowns, respirators, caps, adult pampers, surgical tape and gloves, among others.
Figueira said the NGO is aware of the limitations of the institution in being adequately prepared to deal with the pandemic.
“We are very much concerned because we don’t have all of the necessary equipment and apparatus to provide widespread testing,” Figueira said.
The NGO has embarked on an aggressive education campaign to sensitise, especially the younger demographic, on the importance of sanitation and social distancing.
“Caring for Others is here to assist and we are appealing to the residents of Linden, residents of Region 10 and to the wider extension Guyana to really give coronavirus the seriousness that it should be given. It is a deadly disease. We are appealing to the residents to really pay rapt attention to what is going on. Stay home and play your role,” he urged.
In expressing appreciation for the donation on behalf of the hospital was medical superintendent (ag), Joseph London, who said the fight against COVID-19 is not a medical problem but a community one and commended the NGO for being part of the community that came on board with something tangible. LHC, he said, needs as much help as possible because if the situation does get out of control, the facility will become overwhelmed.
The strongest weapon presently, he said, is prevention and protection through social distancing and sanitation. “If we are able to strengthen our prevention then we will be one of the communities where this would have its least effect and we can be an example to other communities,” he said.
The items donated will be put in use immediately and Joseph also urged other stakeholders and NGOs to also come forward with tangible donations.
The Ministry of Health said the cases of coronavirus in Guyana remain at five.