THERE is a ‘feeling’ in the public domain that government is not doing its best to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is also some who say the relaxation of the curfew has allowed the weakening of law enforcement’s fight to contain the deaths and keep the public safe. They allege that the opening up of the economy poses several health risks and government should bring the curfew back to 06:00pm to 06:00am regardless of the suffering of small-scale businesses such as bars, clubs, and tourism.
And finally, some believe that the vaccines that have been approved for use in Guyana are not effective or efficient against any strain of virus so they heap skepticisms on the government’s rush to have widespread vaccination completed.
While many things have been said, and accusatory finger pointed here and there, those issues mentioned as “feelings” and “beliefs” are what is causing the big “lie” about how to fight the virus effectively. They are causing so many myths and perception about COVID-19 to get ‘serious’ though they are not deserving.
The truth is, government’s management of the pandemic has been sound, stellar and effective in the case of Guyana. From the time it got into office, the government has taken the pandemic seriously and devoted a large amount of resources — financial and human — to ensuring that the public is kept safe.
Under the previous administration, there was no real well-thought out policy or plan that geared Guyana for this fight. The health sector was basically just ‘responding’ to the emergencies that were taking place granted it was early days since the virus first infected someone in Guyana. The government’s lackluster and laid-back approach saw it loosing valuable time and resources.
There wasn’t a clear and precise approach to the detection of the virus, so “testing” was not done in every part of Guyana and by every institution that had all the resources to deal with the threat of COVID-19. In other words, there was clearly no leadership with the President imploring one thing, and the minister, along with advisers, doing another.
Now, the Irfaan Ali Administration has taken over and a new clear outlook in terms of the Policy Articulation, Evaluation and Implementation is occurring. They seem to have changed the gear a bit from being ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’. Many of communities and regions in Guyana are now testing for the virus and the inoculation programme seems to be widespread with 135, 000 or more people already accessing the vaccine.
Also, this government is not deaf to the concerns of the businesses about the curfew imposition nor its negative impact on the socio-economic wellbeing of the populace. The government, it would appear, assessed the situation with the pandemic. Threading carefully, it eased on the restrictions to doing business in Guyana and slowly adjusted the curfew. This is while the number of persons being tested and vaccinated climbed drastically.
In Guyana, though the problem remains, the numbers of persons being documented as having COVID-19 and dying from the virus – 295 — my last check — is too much. The government needs to sharpen its response on the ground to the guidelines it issued in order to protect people against this onslaught. It needs to move to a mandatory policy of wearing masks while in public places, doing business, or travelling. (These have already been done)
It may be prudent that there is a full public relations campaign that is designed to cause the necessary behavioural change that is necessary. This behavioural change is the underlying thing that will result in positive results being had. This campaign should be two-fold targeting the prevention as well as compliance and regulations.
The myths referred to about the vaccine offered here can be fact-checked online via the World Health Organization and PAHO as well as other reputable sources and new sites. As a collective, the government must use the campaign to drive out fear and boost the persons’ confidence in taking the vaccine in order to get Guyana safe again.
Resorting to changing the policies back to what it was will not help the economy, including putting pressure back on the shoulders of small businesses that are still very much re-opening. The answer to fighting this pandemic lies in stopping the virus through testing and inoculation until a cure is found.
Instead of complaining about what government is doing, the Opposition and Civil Society groups need to stand side by side with the government, creating the strongest possible barriers against COVID-19. They can join in campaigns and awareness sessions that will cause a united front and one message to be sent. Use all available avenues to keep the government on its toes when it comes to fighting the battle against the virus.
The time for audits and investigations will come into how government has been spending its COVID-19 funds but now is time to stem the tide and stop COVID from weakening our immune systems and killing us.