Ministers to work remotely
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President Irfaan Ali being tested for COVID-19
President Irfaan Ali being tested for COVID-19

— as foreign minister tests positive for COVID-19

PRESIDENT Irfaan Ali has advised members of his Cabinet to work remotely, after Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Guyana, like many countries around the world, has been challenged by both the direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but President Ali had committed to keeping Guyanese informed about the fight against this scourge.
“We are dealing with a global pandemic and I assured all Guyanese that there will be transparency, accountability and openness in the way your government works for you,” said President Ali during a virtual message, on Wednesday.
To this end, the president said Minister Todd came into contact with an individual, who tested positive for COVID-19, and subsequently found out he was positive, after being tested for the disease.

Minister Todd, since being sworn in last week, has attended Cabinet meetings and was even part of a meeting among President Ali; the President of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi and other government officials.

“I have since advised him (Minister Todd) to inform all individuals whom he came into contact with and to work with the minister of health to facilitate contact tracing and possible testing,” said President Ali.

Further, the president has advised Cabinet members to undergo a COVID-19 test, as a precautionary measure. Ministers have also been advised to work remotely until they receive the results of their tests.

Guyana has so far recorded 623 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but 191 of those persons have since recovered and 22 persons have lost their lives. The remaining 412 active cases are being monitored by health authorities.

“I have made a commitment to conduct the affairs of the government transparently and there is no greater issue that requires transparency, at every level, than in the way we address the

COVID-19 pandemic,” said President Ali.
COVID-19 remains a global pandemic which must be addressed frontally, and government has since taken a holistic and comprehensive approach, which prioritised testing; increased provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); and inter-agency collaboration.
President Ali again assured persons that he will do everything possible to protect Guyanese from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has no barriers.

FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES
Persons were advised to take the necessary precautions, follow the guidelines of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and wear masks in public, and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
Most people who fall sick with COVID-19, will experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover without special treatment.
“So fellow Guyanese, let us act wisely and be responsible as we start another exciting week. We can continue to do all the things we need to do safely and in a way that does not compromise public health in Guyana,” Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Shamdeo Persaud had advised.
He reminded persons that COVID-19 is in Guyana and will not go away by denial or ignorance. It is real, said the CMO, noting that it is evidenced by the many persons who died and the agony and sadness of their families and friends.
The control measures in place are often hard to cope with, but considering the prevailing circumstances, persons must be cautious and vigilant, as they continue to do their part in the fight against COVID-19.
“We are stronger together. So, stay vigilant, observer all the measure, wear a mask in public, maintain physical distance and practice good hygiene for a safer and healthier Guyana,” the CMO advised.
Guyana Chronicle had reported that Guyana’s economy, like many others around the world, has taken a hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially at the household level, where jobs were lost, income dried up and, in some cases, hunger crept in.
The conditions were exacerbated further because of the long delay in the declaration of the March 2020 Elections results.

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING
But the new administration has “hit the ground running” and, according to newly elected President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, his government is working to secure $4.5B as emergency response to help at the household level.
“We have reached out to several multilateral and bilateral sources with a view to urgently mobilise financial resources of the magnitude that is necessary to overcome the effects of this pandemic. I must say the response has been encouraging,” said Dr. Ali during his address at the inauguration ceremony, on Saturday.
To further ease the strain on persons, government had met with the Governor of the Central Bank and directed him to extend regulatory permission so as to allow for bankers to continue extending moratoriums.
Government has also looked at the possibility of adjusting the “reserve requirement” which will allow the banks to have more disposable resources and tie that adjustment with lower interest rates.
“We have started to examine, from a fiscal perspective, what support we can give to the private sector and other groups, all with the view of supporting a resumption of the economic activities and putting people back to work.
“Every life in our nation matters and my government will ensure that every life is protected from harm. The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed too many lives. Everything possible must be done to protect our people from this dreaded and dreadful disease,” said President Ali.
That is why, as President, he promised to personally and urgently participate in his government’s programme to stop infection by the coronavirus, curb its spread, and safeguard the health of Guyana.
After completing a rapid assessment, the President has already started to establish a structure to tackle the virus as effectively as possible.
Part of the structure includes the creation of a COVID-19 Response Unit comprising government policymakers, represented by the prime minister and the minister of health, and regional and international partners such as CARICOM, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and UNDP.

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