29 active cases of COVID-19 in Aishalton
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Officials of the village at the checkpoint erected at the entrance to Aishalton (Toshao Michael Thomas photo)
Officials of the village at the checkpoint erected at the entrance to Aishalton (Toshao Michael Thomas photo)

THE village of Aishalton, located in the Deep South area of the Rupununi in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), now has 29 active cases of COVID-19 after additional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were conducted recently.

On Thursday, after an emergency meeting with the response team in the village, it was noted that a curfew starting at 18:00hrs and lasting until 06:00hrs the next day has been instituted. This curfew will be in place until May 15 and will be enforced by members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the Village Council.

This curfew and other measures were adopted since nine members of the village tested positive for COVID-19. Then, also, one village elder, 96-year-old Simon Marcello, died after he contracted the novel coronavirus.

While those nine COVID-19 cases were detected first, contact tracing was conducted and it was determined that other exposed people should be tested and placed into isolation. On Sunday, however, via a notice on the village’s Facebook page, it was posted that 21 more persons tested positive for the virus and that a total of 105 persons are on home quarantine from over 20 households.

Additional restrictions imposed on the village include that visitors or non-residents, and people from neighbouring Brazil will not be permitted to enter the community. Individuals conducting official business, such as government officers, contractors and medical personnel, are exempt from this.

Businesses should be closed by 18:00hrs daily and all social gatherings, including sports, church services and fundraisers are suspended. Businesses are also required to ensure that their premises are outfitted with sanitisation stations. Buses entering the village must not transport non-residents without permission from the village council and all passengers should be listed on a manifest and present themselves to gate monitors for screening.

“Residents leaving the village must first check with the doctor for screening, obtain a signed medical document and then proceed to the village council for a pass letter signed by the village council. Persons coming into Aishalton must have a signed letter from their respective village council, stating the purpose of their travel, and must follow all village measures,” the notice said. It was noted, too, that there will be a system in place for the transportation of goods and services on selected days; this will be facilitated by the village council and the business community in Aishalton.

To support these families while in quarantine, the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC) — a local non-governmental organisation (NGO)– has been working alongside the village authorities to provide supplies, according to Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the SRDC, Immaculata Casimero. On Saturday, Casimero told the Guyana Chronicle, “We are trying to do public awareness to see how they can abide by the rules.”

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