IN light of Guyana’s confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Department of Citizenship and Office of the Chancellor on Sunday indicated that a number of precautionary measures are being put in place.
Persons entering the courts, the registries and offices will be required to sanitise their hands, and the remand of prisoners will be conducted over skype among other measures; while at the Department of Citizenship, citizens will be required to comply with the Ministry of Public Health’s guidelines on infection prevention and control. The Office of the Chancellor indicated that sanitisers will be provided and placed at the entrances and in strategic locations at all courts.
This was one of many measures decided upon at a meeting between Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards and senior court officials on March 12 to address the response of the court system in safeguarding staff and court customers in relation to the virus.
Measures taken also include fumigation and sanitisation exercises at all courts and their environs. This took place over the weekend, and is expected to continue in successive weekends and periodically as necessary.
Members of the public who do not have cases or matters in court, are encouraged to stay away from the courts, while constant review and assessment of the situation will be done and updates will be provided to court users and members of the public.
“Given the nature and characteristics of COVID-19 and its potential to disrupt or even halt the functions of the court, it is expected that there will be scrupulous adherence to protocols. The judiciary and the magistracy wish to thank all court users and members of the public for their understanding and cooperation,” the statement said.
The statement also noted that a Response Team has been set up to deal with the preparedness, response, and interaction with public health agencies. The team will interface with staff and report to the Chancellor of the Judiciary. The courts are expected to be open for business as per normal from today.
In the Department of Citizenship statement, it was noted that the new measures being implemented are being taken to ensure that members of the public and DoC staff are protected from the spread of COVID-19.
“In order to minimise the risks involved when large numbers of persons are congregated, persons will be attended to in smaller groups and will be permitted entry on this basis. Members of the public are advised that masks are only required if they are caring for a person suspected of being infected with COVID-19 or if they are coughing or sneezing,” the department said.
The Department of Citizenship explained that these precautions are necessary, since a significant number of persons who utilise its services on a daily basis are foreign nationals, many of whom would have engaged in recent overseas travel and may have been exposed to the COVID-19.
This request will remain in effect until the status of the spread of COVID-19 in Guyana is reviewed.
Officially declared a global pandemic by the WHO, the coronavirus has been sweeping the globe since the first outbreak originated in Wuhan, China in December, 2019.
According to CARPHA, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, coughs, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
According to WHO statistics, as of last Sunday, there has been 153,648 confirmed cases of infected persons in 146 countries across the globe, 5746 deaths have thus far occurred as a result of the spread.