COVID-19 Impact on Guyana: April 21 Situation Report

Election News

  • Authorities continue their struggle towards a conclusive election result. The ballot box recount of the March 2nd elections will take place at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, but there is no start date at this writing.
  • Moreover, the National COVID-19 Task Force has been charged with implementing contagion prevention measures within the building. This will mean a safer but slower process for the international observers, Guyana Election Commission Officials, security personnel and designated electoral process officials participating in the process.
  • The Task Force stipulated that any foreign election observers (e.g. OAS, Caricom) must test negative for COVID-19, or be required to stay in a government-controlled quarantine facility for 14 days after their arrival.
  • Additionally, an agreement must be reached by the elections commission on the recount’s start date. Experience suggests that will not be a quick process.
  • Considering all that, and the limitation of 10 recount workstations operating for 10 hours maximum a day to count the 2,400 ballot boxes, we believe an election result could be declared in late June, at best.

COVID-19 and the Government Response

  • The current number of known COVID-19 cases in Guyana is 66, with 7 recorded deaths. These figures must be considered in the context of a very low testing rate: Since testing initiated in March, a total of 328 persons have been tested with 262 shown to be negative.
  • Fifty people are under supervised home quarantine, where they are observed by Ministry of Health officials via home visits. Seventeen persons are in government-controlled isolation centers. This group has shown symptoms deemed highly likely to be COVID-19 related, or they have come into direct contact with persons known to to be infected. Five people are in the ICU of Georgetown Public Hospital. Nine people known to be infected have recovered.
  • To increase the domestic COVID-19 testing capacity, the government has authorized private hospitals to conduct COVID-19 testing. The Eureka Medical Laboratory in Georgetown is undertaking Nasopharyngeal Swab testing, with the results being sent abroad for testing using PCR technology. Eureka has advised that it will take patients up five days to receive their results by email.
  • The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) has indicated that there are 2,000 test kits available in-country, with another 7,000 expected shortly. Test kits will be allocated only to the hospitals that pledge to adhere to PAHO’s newly-developed testing guidelines.
  • The Government has commissioned the Ocean View Hotel (featured in the photo above) as a designated COVID-19 emergency hospital facility. The site is presently under renovations to make the facility fit for purpose, prompting concerns that renovations may not be ready for the projected surge of infections. PAHO projects 20,000 positive cases in Guyana by early May.

Civil Life

  • Messaging via social media platforms, radio, newspapers, and the national telecoms provider continue to urge social distancing measures. We estimate 60% of Georgetown pedestrians are wearing some sort of mask, an encouraging improvement from our last situation report.
  • On Sunday April 19th. schools were declared closed indefinitely. Many of them have adopted an e-learning program.
  • The Civil Defence Commission yesterday halted their program of distributing emergency food packages donated from local businesses and individuals. This was prompted by government officials concerned that the distribution was inequitable, and called for a longer-term social welfare security assessment before the program could be resumed.
  • The 6pm curfew remains in place, excepting essential travel to pharmacies and essential travel by public sector workers. Enforcement is light, however, with the roads and some small vendors in communities continuing to be busy and often open until 7:30pm.
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