COVID-19 Impact on Guyana: May 13 Situation Report
The recount of the March 2nd national elections started on May 6th at the Arthur Chung Conference Center. There has been a heavy emphasis on planning and safeguarding the process in the context of COVID-19 risk prevention.
The recount process has been scheduled to finish within a 25-day period as set by the elections commission. By the end of the first day, however, barely 1% of the 2,300 ballot boxes had been recounted. Although all parties to the process acknowledged that the initial pace was hindered by teething adjustments to the new recount protocols (inclusive of additional verification and COVID-19 measures) it seems unlikely that the 25 day deadline will be met.
A joint press statement from the international foreign missions in Guyana, including the European Union, British High Commission, Canadian High Commission, and U.S. Embassy was issued on May 6th. The statement announced that “The results of these elections are long overdue, and it is incumbent on all to do what they can to ensure the democratic choice of the people is heard and acted upon.” They also urged that “Full transparency of the recount process is, however, vital to ensure it is credible.”
A CARICOM delegation of three observation personnel arrived in country on May 3rd and will be the only foreign observers to participate in the recount process.
The total amount of COVID-19 cases now stands at 93, with 3 patients presently in ICU at Georgetown Public Hospital. There are now 10 recorded COVID-19 deaths. A total of 680 persons have been tested since March, with 587 of those tested returning negative.
In an effort to improve the public’s personal protection response to the virus, the Georgetown City Council announced that from May 6th all vendors and attendees at the Municipal market must wear a face mask. Fines may be imposed on maskless shoppers and any vendors operating in unauthorised spaces. Nonetheless, many people at the market disregarded the measures when it opened that day and authorities temporarily shut the market.
There are now visible queues outside every supermarket, convenience store, and post office in the mornings. The queues are in most part due to the spacing requirements of vendors adhering to social distancing policies, and the shops remain well stocked for general food items.
Relief support for Guyana’s COVID-19 situation has been received from the Operators of the Stabroek Block, with Exxon, HESS petroleum, and CNOOC contributing GYD$40,000,000 (~USD$190,000) to the Ministry of Public Health. These funds, in addition to donations from the Salvation Army, The Rotary Club and several local businesses, were received for additional quarantine facilities, hampers, and personal protective gear for frontline responders.
Oil companies in Guyana have initiated a secure rotation programme at several hotels to ensure the safety and virus spread prevention for their employees operating offshore. This sterile environment policy includes isolated transportation, an in-country quarantine period, and constant health monitoring.
The Department of Energy has announced that there have been some slippage with regards to continuation of the Liza Field oil production, which is presently producing 70k-80k bpd. However, all indications are that the field will reach the expected 120k bpd capacity by mid-June.
We are seeing an increase in petty crime in the Georgetown area. We believe this is driven by inconsistent deliveries of relief, and opportunistic thieves taking advantage of people who are out of their houses for longer periods of time.