THE news on COVID now is not good for Guyana’s unvaccinated and partially vaccinated. Minister Anthony said 20 per cent of our adult population remains unvaccinated; 413,376 persons or 80.6 per cent of the adult population have received a first dose, while only 298,954 or 58.3 per cent of them are fully vaccinated with both doses. More people are getting the booster shots, which is a good thing. With regard to the adolescent 12 to 17 age group, the Health Minister disclosed that some 30,829 or 42.3 per cent have received a first dose and of that amount, 21,957 or 30.1 per cent are fully immunised. So parents, please hurry up and get the children vaccinated so schools can be safer. What is more alarming is, one news report said, “Authorities report almost 1,000 new COVID-19 infections in one day.” Nation, this is a health crisis regardless of what anyone says. When COVID should be decreasing, instead, the number of daily infections has gone up almost 300 per cent and people are still dying every day.
More disappointing is that President Ali revealed that a total of 200 health care workers had tested positive for the virus — 75 nurses, 50 doctors and 41 technicians across the health sector have contracted COVID-19. He added that 50 per cent of the nurses and 70 per cent of the doctors are from the Georgetown Public Hospital. How is it that the ministry allowed so many workers to remain unvaccinated? Are they not implementing the vaccine mandate? What kind of doctors and nurses do we have that are showing such a bad example?
The government has been getting the vaccines and if we refuse to take them, don’t blame the government. When you go for testing and there are long testing lines, don’t blame the government. You had the choice to get the vaccine long ago.
Also, Education Minister Manickchand disclosed that by December 2021, 79 per cent of the teachers at nursery and secondary levels for the coastal regions have been vaccinated with 71 per cent at the secondary level. This is an improvement, but we need close to 100 per cent to achieve “herd immunity.” Please disclose the vaccination numbers for all the regions. And why do we still have so many teachers unvaccinated? Are we not implementing the vaccine/testing mandate?
In the U.S., there were reports of over 1,000,000 (one million) new daily COVID cases as Omicron surges – that’s more than the whole population of Guyana. The World Health Organisation said the number of global cases has increased by 71 per cent in the last week, and in the Americas by 100 per cent. It said that among severe cases worldwide, 90 per cent were unvaccinated. The record number of people catching the virus has left health systems under severe pressure. Here are some recent headlines – “Thousands of flights cancelled”; “Covid cases, test shortages are closing schools”; “Covid cases rise by 948 per cent in Florida as Omicron drives huge wave across U.S.”; “Some Michigan schools expecting Omicron surge go online, cancel classes”; “Advocate Children’s Hospital sees three-fold increase in kids hospitalised for Covid-19, amidst latest surge”; and “Thousands of teachers, students absent as Omicron ravages Florida.”
The World Health Organisation has warned against describing the Omicron variant as mild, saying it is killing people across the world. Can the PNC under Norton show some nationalism and arrange a massive vaccination drive, instead of swiping at the government? How about the unions doing a drive? And all our churches? What’s keeping you back from stepping up at a time like this? We need everyone to get on board in the national interest. This is a matter of life and death, not a political matter.
Dr. Jerry Jailall