The Guyana government on Wednesday warned that it would take “extreme measures” against people who are moving about freely and so risk contracting or spreading the deadly coronavirus, COVID-19.
The National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) warned that Guyana might have to follow several other countries in curtailing the movement of people in an effort to curb the disease that has already claimed the life of one person and afflicted four others.
“As such the NCTF is both monitoring the conduct of the citizenry and considering various measures, including extreme measures, which have been instituted in other countries, to impose restrictions on the movement of persons for a defined period until the threat is abated,” the NCTF said in statement.
President David Granger has already issued a gazetted directive to the Minister of Public Health to, among other things, seek police assistance in executing aspects of that directive.
The NCTF says it is seriously concerned that too many citizens and businesses have been ignoring the public advisories and warnings and arr instead going about their daily activities as per normal and operating in a business-as-usual manner.
“The NCTF warns that such a cavalier approach by some citizens can seriously impair the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and have a devastating impact on the Guyanese populace,” the NCTF said.
The President has noted that the constitution provides for the deprivation of people’s personal liberty and freedom of movement or residence in Guyana to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and requires the Minister of Public Health to restrain, segregate and isolate persons suffering from the disease or, maybe, likely from exposure to the disease.
The NCTF, which is being chaired by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, updated President David Granger and Cabinet about its work and proposed measures.
Already several religious organisations have stopped holding in-person services, the University of Guyana and public schools have closed their doors until next month, the Guyana Revenue Authority has suspended several tax collection and licensing operations, and a number of businesses have either shut altogether or scaled down their operations.