Dr Frank Anthony, Guyana’s Minister of Health. (Image courtesy Government of Guyana) Government of Guyana

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As the Government works on its plan to allow vaccinated people access to gyms, bars, private members clubs and in-house dining at eateries, Guyana is pushing its vaccination thrust even harder.

The Caricom member state now mandates its citizens to present vaccination cards or negative PCR test results to access public and private services. While people are pushing back against mandatory vaccinations in several countries, Guyana’s Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony, says people still have a choice.

Anthony spoke on CNC3’s The Morning Brew yesterday, explaining that Guyanese people can either take the vaccine or present a negative PCR test result. He said that in some countries, people do not have an option. They must show their vaccination cards to get some services. Anthony said the Government wants to protect the population and understands the capacity of the healthcare system. He said that, like several other Caribbean countries, Guyana is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Some countries can associate an increase with the circulation of the Delta Variant in the Caribbean.

With the Delta Variant more transmissible, leading to increased hospitalisations and deaths, Anthony said one mitigation strategy was to increase vaccinations. Bearing that in mind, the Guyanese government engaged public and private sector agencies to find a way to get more people vaccinated. They came up with a mandate for people to show their vaccination or COVID-19 statuses to enter public places. To enter government ministries and agencies, a person must present a vaccination card or negative PCR test. An unvaccinated person has to make an appointment. It is the same when visiting privately owned buildings like supermarkets and cinemas. However, the owner or management is responsible for executing the measure. There is also a national task force that carries out random checks for compliance. Currently, there are around 175,000 fully vaccinated people in Guyana, representing 34.1 per cent, while about 337,000 people received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, representing 65.7 per cent of the adult population. After a week and a half of vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 18, 18,862 or 25.9 per cent of that cohort took the vaccine.

Anthony said Guyana offers the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik V and for the children, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. He believes the Delta Variant was already in the country. He said the Ministry of Health recorded a daily average of 200 cases in the last week, in a population of 782,766.

For Trinidadians wanting to visit Guyana, Anthony said they needed to present a negative PCR test result taken within three days of arrival. They would be allowed to proceed with their business. If the test result is older than three days but not more than seven, the authorities require another test done on arrival at the airport. If it is positive, the visitor goes into isolation. “You are also required to present your vaccination card with you and a negative PCR so you can move around. We consider, for now, vaccinated as at least having one dose. So we are not asking you to be fully vaccinated. If you have at least one dose of a two-dose regimen, we consider you to be vaccinated.”