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The gradual increase of COVID-19 cases might have been viewed as a positive sign for Guyana, as opposed to an uncontrollable health crisis.
However, Country Representative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. William Adu-Krow has viewed this under a different light, fearing that the country might develop an endemicity to the virus rather than eliminating it completely.
During a forum hosted by the Texila American University on June 19, 2020, Friday, the PAHO official recognized the rate at which cases were detected locally and called it an insidious one.
He said, “Now we have a system in place, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to catch new cases as early as possible. If we do, I think we are on the route to getting somewhere that we can all live with. In terms of my outlook, initially, what I feared was we in Guyana did not have this exponential rise that many countries were having. Ours was an insidious one; insidious because we were not very serious with the measures being adopted.”
Due to the slow progression of the virus and coupled with non-adherence to guidelines in some sections of the population, he said that there were apprehensions that the country was entering a state of endemicity – meaning it would linger and become confined to the region.
“Some people were agreeing to the measures; some people were flouting it with impunity, and therefore, even though the measures were working, there was just a slight increase all the time. My fear was that we were entering into endemicity, meaning that you would never get over COVID-19.
It would be gradual and then become a part of this life, like HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or diabetes. That is not what we want,” the health official expressed.
According to Dr.Adu-Krow, Guyana should seek to have complete eradication of the virus – a target that can be easily achieved through the reduced transmission.
He added, “This is a transmission that can be halted. With everybody on board, we should be able to halt it. The good thing is that it can be halted with non-pharmaceutical means, and therefore, it is my view that if we all apply ourselves, we should be able to do it.”
It has been over 13 weeks since Guyana recorded its first case of the virus, and presently, the statistics are close to the 200 mark. Until July 2, the current COVID-19 measures and curfew will remain in place, as directed by the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF).
Public transport will continue to operate at 50% passenger capacity as social distancing rules and the wearing of face masks must be maintained.
Moreover, gatherings of more than five persons remain prohibited, while the stay-at-home order also remains in effect.