ON Saturday afternoon, the first group of stranded Guyanese passengers, who were given the green light by the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) to return to these shores, touched down at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) aboard an Eastern Airlines flight.
Some 137 passengers, who were stranded in various parts of the United States since Guyana’s airspace was closed as result of the coronavirus pandemic, arrived on Saturday. American citizens, who have been stranded here, were awaiting their chance to return to their homeland aboard the outbound Eastern Airlines flight.
Reports are that a second flight is expected in Guyana in the coming days.
Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, told reporters that the arrival of the locals was a significant experience as she noted that it meant Guyana came a far way since January this year when the authorities here were made aware of what was transpiring in Wuhan, China.
“The fact that today we can be able to open the airport for Guyanese who are in various countries, today specifically we looked at the USA,” Lawrence said. She said that the arrival of the first set of passengers meant that the authorities, “would have been able to put in place several elements needed to ensure that we can be able to cushion any effects that may spill out for persons travelling from high-risk countries.”
In terms of the CJIA preparedness, she said that the Ministry of Public Health has been working closely with the airport management and also the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to ensure that Guyana can be able to accommodate passengers passing through the airport and while maintaining the guidelines of physical distancing among other measures.
The passengers are undergoing a mandatory seven-day quarantine and Lawrence said that the surveillance department of the Ministry of Public Health will ensure that the passengers are following the guidelines. Should any issues arise, that unit will address such matters.
According to the Department of Public Information, all arriving passengers would have been subjected to the strict guidelines instituted by the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF), which includes but is not limited to the nationals submitting negative tests for COVID-19 no less than 48 hours before arrival.
On Friday, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, noted several passengers would have had issues related to their COVID-19 tests while a few were deemed ineligible to travel.
Nevertheless, the minister maintained that stranded Guyanese should continue to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the respective embassies and consulates in their area.