‘COVID-19 difficult to curtail in Bartica with so many entry points’
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– Regional Chairman says National Task Force needs to respond

OVER the past few days, the township of Bartica went from having no recorded case of Coronavirus (COVID-19), to having five confirmed cases, 17 awaiting tests results, and five in institutional isolation.

Regional Chairman of the Cuyuni Mazaruni Region where the town is situated, Gordon Bradford, told the Guyana Chronicle that the situation is one that is difficult, as Bartica is easily accessible all around, and more human resources are needed to assist.
In addition, the people of the town are not fully supportive of the protective measures being implemented by the regional leaders.

Bradford said that the Regional Task Force has established screening units at all the legal checkpoints, to ensure that, as people enter the town, they are screened for safety. However, these checkpoints are being avoided by some transportation providers and individuals, and this is an issue that cannot be easily addressed, because of the manpower needed to do so.

“This is a very tedious exercise and it is difficult to execute. Because we have so many entry points to Bartica, and the more you try to enforce, the more the people are not cooperating. They’re landing their boats at different entry points to avoid the screening process. But even though we are cognisant of this, we don’t have the human resources to monitor all these entry points. Not even the police we have here are enough to monitor all entry points to Bartica. And the nature of this virus, it only takes one person to slip through, and that can infect a whole host of other people. So that’s the difficulty. But we are to hear from the National COVID-19 Task Force, because it has to assist with the curtailing of the virus in this region,” Chairman said.

He noted, too, that it is even difficult for the police when they try to assist in enforcing, because they too cannot have physical contact with people because of the contagiousness of the virus.

“How can a police execute his duty from 6 feet away? And I believe it is the non-adherence and non-cooperation, generally, that has the numbers going up. Same crowding, no social distancing, we’re really between a rock and a hard place with this COVID-19 situation, because even if we try to be stricter and enforce a lock down, and have everyone stay home, who is supporting them? They got to have food,” Bradford lamented.

The Regional Health Officer (RHO), Dr. Edward Sagala, shared similar sentiments as Bradford on the issue. He said Bartica being infected now is as a result of the non-compliance and lack of cooperation they have been getting in the town.
Sagala was quoted in a Facebook post saying “What is sad and of increasing concern is the

fact that Barticans are continuously flaunting/ignoring the advisories that the Health Department, time and time again, has been preaching, and no one seems to be listening, showing care or even bothering at all. Face masks are not worn; instead, individuals keep them in their bags and pockets. Social distancing is not being observed at all. Small children can be seen wandering on the road unsupervised. Where are the parents? Barticans still continue to be casual and unconcerned, despite our constant reminders that we are facing a deadly disease.”

The RHO, who is also the head of the regional task force, would meet thrice weekly with other members of the task force, and advise the residents on the guidelines, through several communication methods.
However, though many attempts are being made from the regional level, the cooperation of the people is paramount.

Last Wednesday, a male resident was recorded as the first Bartican to test positive, and the man was said to have been in physical contact with ten other persons, and those were subsequently quarantined and tested.

Of the ten tests samples taken, results indicate that four of them are also positive, including a three-year-old child; five are negative and the result of another is pending. All of the contacts are from Bartica and are now in institutional isolation for fourteen days, as is mandated by the COVID-19 guidelines, and then they will be retested.
A further 16 individuals were tested, amongst them are healthcare workers, and the results will soon be available.

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