October 26, 2014 By
October 26, 2014 By
– residents concerned about backtrack routes
By Tajeram Mohabir
Even as the Health Ministry steps up surveillance at all major ports of entry for the Ebola virus, calls are being made for patrol of illegal routes used to enter Guyana’s porous borders.
With the virus which originated in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone spreading to the United States and Spain, and even in light of a recent suspected case in Brazil being tested negative, local authorities say they remain ever alert.
Recently, Nigeria, a nation with some 150 million people, was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Africa’s most populous nation was praised for its remarkable efforts in containing the deadly virus.
The Government has increased monitoring at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), and the Ogle International Airport (OIA).
It recently announced that some 1600 persons will be trained to tackle the virus in case of an outbreak here.
The President in a recent address to the nation, said systems are being put in place to ensure the safety of all Guyanese.
“Modern equipment is being used (at CJIA and OIA) and more is being acquired to raise the effectiveness of this exercise.
“The Government has been, and will be acquiring additional medical supplies, including more protective gear, gloves, etc in order to be better prepared. Retention centres are being identified and established for quarantine and monitoring of suspected cases. In the event of the discovery of suspected cases, the Public Health responses have been organised,” the President said.
The President noted that suspected arriving passengers will be quarantined at holding centres at ports of entry. Elsewhere, suspected cases, if hospitalised, would be cared for under conditions of strict isolation.
The President’s announcements were made amid questionson what Guyana is doing to address the virus, given the consequence it might have, as the country struggles to suppress the Chikungunya virus.
Speaking with Guyana Times, officials said aside from the CJIA and OIA monitoring is being done, but residents are contending that the current efforts do not appear to be enough.
The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) estimates that some 28,000 Surinamese visit Guyana annually through Berbice. This is about 76 persons per day, and according to the Berbice Regional Health Authority (BRHA), the ports in the county are being monitored for the Ebola virus.
The ports are the Moleson Creek Ferry Stelling and the backtrack route at Corriverton.
“To say that we have a 24-hour presence at the backtrack route would not be correct. However, with the Canawaima ferry service, we have a Port Health Officer every time it comes in,” BRHA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Vishwanauth Mahadeo said.
But persons who have utilised the ferry service over the past week told this publication that they have not been checked and have not seen any health official at the stelling.
“I ain’t see anybody… nobody stop anyone who come off the boat,” a passenger told Guyana Times.
According to Dr Mahadeo, the health officer does not interrogate passengers during the monitoring exercises.
“They are trained to look for certain signs and symptoms and once persons exhibit any of those signs and symptoms, the person will be pulled in.”
Signs and symptoms of the Ebola virus include fever, fatigue, malaise, reddened eyes, weakness, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
According to MedicineNet.com, patients experience a loss of appetite and often stomach pains. Some patients experience sore throat, rash, cough, hiccups, chest pain, breathing problems and difficulty swallowing.
Later, as the disease progresses and worsens in severity, symptoms can include both internal and external bleeding.
The BHRA CEO also pointed out that if a person has the virus and it is within the 21-day incubation period, it would be difficult to detect the symptoms, contending that “if the mighty United States can’t pick it up, I don’t think we can pick it up as yet.”
Meanwhile, a check on the backtrack route at Corriverton proved that no monitoring is being done there even though scores of persons frequent the channel on a daily basis.
“I am there every day and I never see anyone come out checking at the passengers,” one person said. Operators there also say that they have not seen any Port Health Officer in the vicinity.
Dr Mahadeo said health workers are being trained to both identify the virus and protect themselves against it.
According to him, doctors have already been trained and radio and television programmes will be launched to educate the public about Ebola virus.
Over at Charity on the Essequibo Coast, residents have expressed concerns that Venezuelans are entering Guyana regularly through a backtrack route, using the Pomeroon River, unmonitored.
The WHO has reported that the Ebola virus spreads through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.
The residents said while they are not putting down the neighbouring country, there is bodily contact on the boats and if an Ebola victim happens to enter Guyana through that channel, it might open the floodgates for a difficult-to-control problem.
A vendor at the Charity Market, who gave her name as Dharamdai Seeram, said she is deeply concerned about the situation, noting that the Venezuelans come to Guyana with speed boats. Guyanese also go to the neighbouring country using the same means of transportation.
According to sources, the trip to Venezuela with speed boat is arranged by an agent and costs $60,000 per person to go and return, which is cheaper than air travel, as a flight costs $240,000.
Another vendor, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said the boats from Venezuela with the undocumented passengers come to Guyana every week.
Although the Charity Oscar Joseph Hospital is not far away from the wharf, there is no system in place to monitor the incoming passengers.
A businessman, who preferred to be called “Brian”, said the illegal channel is used primarily to trade illegal goods, including drugs, furniture and fuel.
All of this, the businessman said, happens unmonitored, noting that with the President calling for heightened surveillance at the borders to protect against the Ebola virus, the authorities on the Essequibo Coast should beef up patrols in the area.
The A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) said it is willing to work with Government to strengthen monitoring for the virus, but called for an immediate closure of all backtrack routes.
Guyana Times Linden correspondent Sheldon Fraser-Sealey reported that Region Nine (Upper Takutu – Upper Essequibo) officials say they have stepped up monitoring and are taking every precautionary measure to prevent the Ebola virus from entering Guyana through the border at Lethem.
According to a Port Health Officer at the border, who gave his name as “Franklin”, screening and checks are being carried out for travellers entering and leaving Guyana.
“For those persons travelling and entering the border, there are Police officers who interview each passenger, asking them a variety of questions pertaining to the Ebola virus.”
According to the Port Officer, the questions include if they have fever, rash and are experiencing diarrhoea, among other pertinent questions.
He said at the Lethem Airport, daily reports are compiled and along with those gathered at the border at Lethem, are sent to the Health Ministry for analysis.
Reports indicate that about 50 to 60 persons enter Guyana from Brazil at the Lethem Airport, most of them Guyanese.
Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and several other nations have implemented travel restrictions on the West African Ebola-hit nations.
Over 9500 persons have been infected by the virus and Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have seen most of the 4800 plus deaths.
On Friday, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) reported that a Guyanese woman who recently returned from a West African country is in voluntary isolation at the hospital’s Ebola Response Unit.
In a statement, the GPHC said it was notified by a private physician of a patient who had recently travelled to a West African nation where Ebola is not present.
“She went to the physician for evaluation and treatment of leg pains.”
The hospital said during the physician’s interview, the woman reported some mild joint pain and was concerned about Chikungunya infection.
The private physician referred her directly to the Georgetown Public Hospital. The woman had reportedly recently returned from a leisure trip to a region in West Africa.
The APNU has also called for a single national plan of action to coordinate the efforts of the Government, civil airlines and the population to stay safe from the deadly virus.
While the Government has implemented a series of measures to protect against the virus, regional health officials are of the opinion that if the virus reaches these shores, Guyana will be severely challenged.
Some doctors are also of the view that Guyana is not in top shape technologically to handle the virus as they stressed the need for a strong containment plan.
They also suggested that if the Government has not done so in a through manner, it should devise a road map outlining detailed steps that would be taken if a person is found with the virus, and the measures to protect both health workers and the citizenry.
They too join the citizenry in calling for stronger monitoring at the ports of entry, especially at the borders and illegal routes.
President Ramotar on Friday met with top officials from several sectors including, security, aviation and medical to discuss the country’s preparedness for any possible Ebola case.
The meeting is one of several scheduled to keep all officials appraised of the latest developments that may arise in addressing concerns across the sectors in dealing with any possible case.
October 26, 2014 By
Of recent, with the Opposition in relentless “attack mode” against the Government and its programme of development, good news from the political front has been few and far between. But on Friday there was a most welcome respite from this doleful trend: the Secretary to the Cabinet announced that Guyana has been spared immediate sanctions because of non-passage of enabling legislation to comply with internationally mandated mechanisms to combat the financing of terrorism and money laundering.
It appears that we now have until September 2015 to pass the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill (AML/CFT) along with six other measures.
Once again, Guyana – not just the Government – has dodged a bullet to its financial heart, fired by the joint Opposition PNC/APNU and AFC. While of recent the populace has been transfixed by the Opposition’s “no-confidence motion” and Local Government Election demands, it may be forgotten that the latter gambits were simply the latest in a prolonged war of attrition waged by that Opposition to remove the democratically elected Government, by any means necessary.
The G-20 sponsored Financial Action Task Force (FATF), to which most of the economic powerhouses belong, had established a desideratum of measures for banks and other financial institutions to institute. While Guyana already had measures in place, these would have to be tightened – with the enabling legislation as a necessary prerequisite. Failure to comply would result in sanctions being imposed that would make Guyana into an international financial pariah.
At no time did the Opposition indicate that they disagreed with the details of the AML/CFT Bill, which was introduced by the Government in Parliament. But they adamantly blocked the passage of the Bill using their one-seat majority because each wanted to extract a quid pro quo, from the Government. While by the looser ethical canons of politics, horse trading is not a totally alien practice, to hold the country hostage to external financial sanctions was completely unprecedented.
The Opposition refused to budge even though the local Caribbean Financial Action Task Force spelled out the likely dire consequences for the country very graphically. At a minimum, all financial transactions with overseas banks and financial institutions would be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny that would significantly slow down their processing.
In the present globalised financial architecture where financial transactions are expected to be instantaneous and any delay costs money, it was projected that many of the larger international financial players might just choose to bypass business with Guyana because of its insignificant size.
This would have proven fatal to the development aspirations of all Guyanese but the Opposition insisted on their pounds of flesh.
The representatives of the ABC countries, the International Financial Institutions, along with Caricom all implored the Opposition not to derail the progress of Guyana. They pointed out that the Opposition themselves agreed with the premises of the legislation: in fact they had been accusing the Government of harbouring money launderers in the country. But their pleas fell on deaf ears.
The Government in its latest effort to fend off sanctions had presented a personal commitment by the Head of State, President Donald Ramotar to the FATF International Cooperation Review Group to address the loopholes in the present AML/CFT regime. But it is obvious that this would still require the passage of the AML/CTF Bill as a threshold issue.
It is our conviction, however, that conditions may have changed enough to break the Gordian knot. The APNU appears to have realised that in its quest to increase its votes, the AFC is willing to pander to the gallery with its “no-confidence” motion, while ignoring more pressing national issues for Parliament to address.
We are suggesting that the Government utilise the ongoing talks with APNU to secure its support to remove the financial Sword of Damocles from over our heads.
October 26, 2014 By
It was refreshing to see the recent long letter written by our Prime Minister (PM) Samuel Hinds advising that “we must shift from distribution and redistribution to production and productivity”.
Our experienced PM must be complimented for taking this stand and with respect, I wish to humbly underscore that any such shift requires a strategic re-orientation and determined push to re-direct action on:
STEM, that is, graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Management to facilitate the changes; and
HRD, that is, Human Resource Development to sustain change or, as our learned PM reminded us, learning to fish in order to feed ourselves for life.
I was especially impressed by the PM’s frank acknowledgement that his decades of experience in the bauxite industry taught him that “business success does not come easily and that socialists tend to under estimate, under value and even belittle the contribution of the capitalists”.
My own experience in the capitalist run sugar and rum industries leads me to a similar conclusion.
I believe that most Guyanese of the same vintage as the PM and myself will readily recall Bauxite’s and Booker’s substantial attention to technical training and human resource development via apprenticeships to produce tradesmen and operatives, plus cadetships/scholarships for development of the managerial and executive cadres.
Many graduates of these initiatives became successful captains of industry, enterprises and organisations at home and abroad.
Interestingly, our PM also refers to the issues of income disparities and the role of taxation in earnings re-distribution.
I do not think we should ignore the power of solid, relevant education, skills training and attitudinal/behavioural changes as natural levers (as opposed to contrived, manipulated taxation) to address income inequalities and mal-distribution of earnings.
Furthermore, I believe a concerted refocus and possible expansion of the role and programmes of entities like the Board of Industrial Training and TVET as well as our Technical Institutes across the country are necessary steps at this stage of our (under)development.
October 26, 2014 By
I am very much relieved to learn that Guyana is off the hook as regards the FATF blacklisting – at least for now.
A GINA report stated that this was largely due to the high-level commitment of the Government, coupled with demonstrated actions made to address the technical deficiencies identified in the country’s AML/CFT regime.
However, Guyana will have to continue to be subjected to an “ongoing process in improving compliance” to ensure that it discharges its obligations under the Action Plan which was worked out with the Americans Regional Review Group (ARRG) and submitted as Guyana’s action plan.
Praise must be showered on Attorney General Anil Nandlall for his hard work before and during the Paris conference. I sincerely hope that every step be taken by lawmakers from both sides of the House to ensure that the requirements of the FATF are met.
Countries and territories are backlisted by the FATF if they fail to cooperate in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing and to this end the FATF has set out certain laws and regulations which should be put in place to prevent mainly money laundering and to finance terrorist groups.
Guyana has failed to comply because the Opposition parties did not cooperate with the Government to pass legislation/regulation in this regard and the country was on the verge of being blacklisted.
At Friday’s meeting in Paris, FATF congratulated Cuba and a few other countries including Argentina, Ethiopia, Tajikistan, and Turkey on their progress in addressing AML/CFT deficiencies earlier identified by he FATF. The FATF also identified jurisdictions which have strategic weaknesses in AML/CTF.
Two days ago the joint Opposition of APNU and AFC met and agreed to press for a early resumption of Parliament to discuss the No-Confidence Motion against the government.
Nothing was said about the move to put the necessary legislation in place to comply with the FATF requirements. I hope that the Opposition will reconsider their stand and work towards putting their house in order as regards the FATF and prevent further embarrassment.
October 26, 2014 By
By Shaikh Moeenul Hack
As Ebola spreads in its worst outbreak in history AS WELL AS Chikungunya locally, how can we protect ourselves from these viruses?
Allah is the Creator and does not do anything without a purpose. Ebola is a wake-up call for all, to adhere to the etiquette and ethics which many have been ignored due to lack of knowledge and heedlessness.
Islam as a way of life has provided appropriate mechanisms that guarantee both safety from and prevention of infectious diseases.
First: Prophet Muhammad (SAS) said, “If you receive news of an outbreak of an epidemic (plague) in a certain place, do not enter it and if you are present in the place then do not leave.” The implication of this is that, it is a religious responsibility not to travel to areas associated with the deadly virus and also for those there not to leave. This is the best way to contain and restrict the spread of the virus. Health-care and relief workers are excluded from this group.
Secondly: Islam is a religion of cleanliness. ‘Cleanliness is half of faith.’ Cleanliness of our bodies, clothing and place of prayers are necessary for the acceptance of prayers. Islam insists on washing of hands with water and soap after urinating and defecating, before and after eating. Those who wash their hands often would guard themselves against the Ebola infection. In addition, Muslims are prohibited from bathing, urinating or defecating in stagnant pools of water. This is because it is not hygienic and coming in direct contact with bodily fluids would predispose one to infections like Ebola, among others.
Keep surroundings clean
Our surroundings must be kept clean. This is the responsibility of every believer in God Almighty.
Thirdly: Islam prohibits eating of certain animals like pigs, dogs, monkeyS and all fanged animals, which have now been identified as vectors of Ebola virus. Medical experts confirm that the disease was first discovered in monkeys.
Fourthly: Based on the principle of Injury and Harm, one of the five principles of Islamic Law, “it is permissible not to wash corpses if washing them would expose the washers to harm”. The same is applicable for decomposed bodies. Islam is pro-life and prohibits any human from performing any acts which will place his/her life in danger. Therefore, medical personnel treating patients with Ebola must take all precautions, use of protective clothing, etcetera. Also, shallow graves are not allowed in Islam.
As a matter of faith and conviction, Muslims are enjoined to live Islam by adhering to its ethics and etiquette in order to be safe from infections and diseases.
There is no cure presently for the Ebola virus. We have a moral and civic responsibility to protect ourselves and not to travel to the affected areas. In addition, if you know of someone who went or came into contact with anyone from those areas, let us encourage them to get medical help. Protect yourself by washing your hands with soap and disinfect your surroundings.
Finally, we strongly encourage the health authorities to intensify their screening at all ports of entry including Lethem, Ogle, Moleson Creek, CJIA, among others, and equip them with the necessary facilities and tools to deal with this virus. Islam enjoins Muslims to be compassionate to all, especially those who are sick and in distress. We must support and include them in our prayers. With the amicable relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, the numerous similarities among the major faiths and the relevance of this message, hopefully we will display collective responsibility and global solidarity absent at the start of this outbreak to bring it to an end.
October 26, 2014 By
Last year I came home for Diwali. But this year, in a rush of resolve, I decided that I’d stay on at Mount Hope. I reasoned that since last year I spent so much time during lectures daydreaming about coming home, I should really batten down the hatches and pay attention to my work this year.
But one of my friends pointed out that Thursday would be a holiday, we had no Labs on Friday, and both Saturday and Sunday would be free, which meant that a trip home would be very doable. And there went my vaunted resolve!! Before you could say “Diwali”, flights had been booked and all that!
So this year, I was again lucky enough to celebrate Diwali at home with my family at the old homestead. And it was incredible. The entire village was permeated with Diwali songs and bhajans. There’s something so very special about being surrounded by your family, singing bhajans, lighting diyas and eating good food. What more can you ask?
And of course, ambling over to neighbours to share the goodies we’d concocted during the day and imbibing the same from others. There are, of course, the “oohing and aahing” at the displays of diyas and lights in the houses around. Our family sticks to the traditional diyas as lights…no electric flashing neon lights yet.
Diwali is a time of renewal …starting a new year, by praying to Mother Lakshmi and making a resolution to do better in all regards you may be lagging. Her iconography doesn’t beat around the bush – the dominant “red” in her sari signifying hard work and effort, which will lead to the rewards signified by the second prominent colour, “gold”.
And talking about renewal, I also visited Georgetown the day after Diwali. As my mom and I were returning home during rush hour, I was so impressed by the way traffic was flowing near the Harbour Bridge.
Where was all of this when I had to schlep over to Queens for seven years?? There were Policemen directing traffic at every step of the way, no one was bullying, and there wasn’t any bottlenecking to get onto the bridge!
I kept wondering, “Is this real life? Am I dreaming that traffic is flowing so smoothly?” And before you wonder why I’d ever possibly be dreaming about the traffic situation at the Demerara Harbour Bridge, I’ve been having some pretty mundane dreams of recent. I wonder what old Freud would say about this.
One that stands out is the one with me at the Supermarket, meticulously selecting the PERFECT baigan to roast for baigan choka. Really thrilling stuff that. Then again it could just be that I’m fixated on Mom’s home cooking – which I’m trying to replicate over in the land of Carnival.
Returning home also gives me the opportunity to look at my homeland with fresh eyes. I know we have a far way to go. But I have to be honest. Things keep changing every time I return home. New roads get built, new houses get built and there’s always something new for me to exclaim over.
OK! OK! There’re still the folks at the back street playing their music at decibels high enough to test the limits of my eardrums. But nostalgia does soften rough edges.
On Monday, this little, mini holiday will be over and I’ll be thrust back into the daily grind of Med School. But before then, I’ll savour every last minute here at home sweet home. There really is no place quite like home.
October 26, 2014 By
A Policeman who was acting as a peacemaker was shot to his left foot in the wee hours of Saturday morning at a night spot at Tabatinga, Lethem, Region Nine.
Assistant Police Superintendent Deolall Rooplall was taken to the Lethem Hospital where he was treated and sent away while a security official has been arrested.
Reports reaching Guyana Times stated that the senior Police officer was at the popular drinking spot when an argument started among a group of men. The officer was reportedly in civilian clothing and from all indications went over to the men.
While doing so, an altercation ensured and in the height of parting the men, the security official attached to a private security firm discharged several rounds, hitting Rooplall in the process.
Persons upon realising that the Police officer was shotto the toe took him with haste to the hospital where he was treated.
The licensed .32 pistol belonging to the security personnel was seized and lodged at the Lethem Police Station.
The Police are continuing their investigations.
October 26, 2014 By
The NEW GPC INC is proud to announce that it is about to rollout its iconic Limacol splash-on in most of the major markets of the world.
According to Executive Chairman, Dr Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, the launch follows a timeline built into Limacol’s expansion strategy that was initiated when the brand became the major sponsor of several major sporting events in Guyana and the Caribbean.
The ensuing broadcasts in every continent made the Limacol Brand a talking point in all the nations where the sports, especially cricket, were played.
In the US, the Limacol Brand will be associated with baseball as well as with the new cricket leagues being launched. Now that the Limacol Brand awareness has reached the critical benchmarks set in the strategy, the decision to launch was made.
Limacol – and several of its brand extensions – will now be introduced into major new markets in Australia, New Zealand, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Africa and the Middle East.
In the US, Canada and Britain, it will strike out into mainstream outlets, in addition to the traditional Caribbean ethnic market where it has always had a loyal following and customer base. The increased sales in its home Caribbean markets will also be augmented.
This major marketing push will see the Limacol production facilities at Farm, East Bank Demerara ratcheted up to deal with the increased demand.
NEW GPC INC has always been in the forefront of boosting the local manufacturing sector with Limacol and numerous other products.
All of these had been shipped to the traditional export markets. With the massive Limacol expansion occasioned by the new market roll outs, it is projected that Guyana will benefit substantially both in terms of increased employment opportunities and in earning foreign exchange. Dr Ramroop emphasised that his company is very bullish on Guyana.
Limacol is a unique body splash on, manufactured in Guyana since the 1920s. Its signature slogan “Freshness of a breeze in a bottle” is known across the Caribbean – and now it will be on lips across the globe.
October 26, 2014 By