Bar operators who insist on doing business, encouraging gatherings could have their licenses revoked for flouting Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rules laid out by the Health Ministry, warned Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, last evening.
He was at the time addressing a late night discussion live streamed via the APNU+AFC Facebook page.
The Minister said that although persons have been advised to practice social distancing for their safety and that of others, they are reluctant to comply, and this will see drastic measures being taken by the relevant authorities.
Ramjattan said despite people being warned of the dangers of this deadly global pandemic- COVID-19, they are still gathering at bars, drinking.
He added, …”When you go to a number of places, in and around the country people are still drinking at the bars. Now I have to do some real hard decisions and ensure that the police come with their vehicles and [issue] warnings to disperse and we will probably have to revoke the licenses of bar owners…”
According to the Minister, in spite of numerous calls being made for people to practice social distancing, they are also seen congregating at the markets and restaurants.
The Minister stressed, “A lot of people hard ears and they just don’t get it; they just don’t get it.We have given advisories and yet people are not listening to us. There is this cavalier, carefree attitude. We have to ensure then, that if it has to be with certain degrees of penalties behind them we are going to start doing that.”
Penalties will be implemented after dialogue with the various ministries, he disclosed.
“We have a major, major, major pandemic at our doors in Guyana and it is creating tremendous problems,” Ramjattan emphasised. He stated that anyone keeping up to date with international news would understand the devastation COVID-19 is havocing.
“The devastation with the public health systems is being overwhelmed with doctors and nurses dying and all of that.”
Unlike Italy, England, China and America, Ramjattan reminded that Guyana does not have a first class health care system. He pointed out that even America, which is supposed to have the best, is having so many problems, including several persons on ventilators in the hospital.
“We have had thousands of deaths in Italy and in Spain, and we have had hundreds, I think already thousands in England,” the Minister noted.
He continued, “We [Guyana] have to be very, very careful. It calls for testing and social distancing and a health system which can treat you if you are in problems. We really do not have all the testing equipment. Another 400 testing kits will be coming in; our private hospitals do not have any systems or equipment to take care of testing or even treating coronavirus.”
The minister admitted that Guyana, like the rest of the world, is not prepared to handle the disease. In this regard, he made a plea for voluntary compliance and co-operation since it is quite clear that not only Guyana, but rather the entire globe, is facing a pandemic it has never experienced before.
He reasoned, “It is very difficult when a coronavirus that is not well known by the experts and scientists and the medical field come to meet you here and you are so unprepared for it. Even in New York with an over 20 million population in the city; they are begging for more ventilators…”
“We, poor Guyana, will be up on our necks with problems if we do not make sure that we do the social distancing to avoid catching it, or infecting others. And that is the minimum we are asking people.”
“Maybe you might have one or two or three people who might have the coronavirus. They might survive because they have in their systems the antibodies to prevent them from going even worse. But, they can then pass it on to somebody that has vulnerabilities like diabetes, high blood pressure, lung infections and a number of other things.”
The Minister added that persons need to ensure they adopt the lifestyle change that is being asked of them by the Health Ministry, and a lock down of certain places is included.
Ramjattan was keen to point out that the government is facing serious backlash when it comes to dealing with the deadly disease, but he believes these criticisms were sparked as a result of the prolonged elections process.