Open Letter to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

Open Letter to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

Dear Prime Minister,

I write pursuant to the matter at caption. I am the brother of a quarantined individual who is currently in Government imposed quarantine on the basis that he may have COVID-19. He attends University in Canada and shows no signs or symptoms of COVID-19. He left Canada in order to reach to his home (Guyana) before the airports were closed. He had not been in contact with any person who has been confirmed to have the virus and took all the relevant precautions while travelling. To this date, he nor the other passengers have been tested and none of them have shown any signs of COVID-19.

On the 25th March, 2020, passengers arrived on the Trans-Guyana owned airplane with registration 8R-GAQ. These passengers were screened by officials in Barbados for COVID-19 before entering the plane. My brother had been in Barbados when his flight to Guyana was cancelled on Wednesday 18th March, 2020, and had since been in self isolation in a hotel room. As far as I understand this flight was allowed entry into Guyana since some British Nationals needed to be transported to Barbados. Upon the arrival of the flight in Guyana, the pilots, stewards and other flight crew were allowed to leave after receiving a simple temperature scan. The passengers were taken to somewhere to be quarantined and they, nor their parents/relatives, were informed about the location or particulars of this quarantine arrangement.

The reason for this letter is to inform and highlight to you, the inhumane conditions of the quarantine facility in Guyana. I understand, from my brother, that he is being made to stay along with 10 persons in one room and are made to share the basic necessities to live. Some of these persons were brought previously and subsequently to his arrival and most of them are strangers to each other. This room contains an even greater amount of bunk beds which may be filled with more persons in accordance with orders from the National Task Force on COVID-19. The persons that are kept in this room are restricted to two atrocious bathrooms that they are forced to clean themselves. The quarantined individuals are given food at odd times of the day and the meals are not proper to sustain the health of these persons.

The concern about this arrangement is that it defeats the purpose of mandatory quarantine since healthy persons in this facility may become infected with the virus. There is no way that persons can employ the necessary safety procedures to protect themselves from COVID-19 in this facility. In addition, this facility is not in accordance with the standards published by the Word Health Organisation in the article, “Consideration for quarantine for individuals in the context for containment of the Corona Virus Disease” dated 29th February, 2020.

Moreover, there is no proper line of communication between the passengers and persons of authority, who I understand is either the Ministry of Public Health or the Army. I understand that on Thursday 26th March, 2020 there was an attempt to start some communication but this was short-lived as it descended into arguments. If this was done, then the passengers and their families may have been able to propose some help for effectively carrying out this quarantine exercise. Further, I’m sure that some arrangement could be made for better meals to be acquired for the passengers. However, the relevant authorities are not accessible.

With regards to these matters, I simply ask you to pay attention to the protocols that are being employed by the National Task Force on COVID-19. This facility seems to be more of a contamination zone rather than quarantine. It is felt that all the protocols that these passengers followed, prior to entering Guyana, have gone out of the window. I constantly ask myself whether it is reasonable to think that all the healthy individuals in there will become infected if only one person indeed has the virus.

These protocols infringe on the human rights of the individuals and should be employed with this in mind. The pilots and other flight crew, who were in direct contact with these passengers during the flight, were allowed to leave the airport without being quarantined. Further, the nurses and other authorities at this facility are allowed to go home every day, to their families, after being in contact with these quarantined individuals whilst not wearing protective wear. I am of the opinion that this defeats the whole purpose of this quarantine exercise. On behalf of these passengers and other concerned persons, I appeal to you to make some effort to ensure that ALL persons are safe and are not contaminated with the deadly disease of COVID-19.

I respectfully challenge you to visit the facilities or request further information about the conditions of the quarantined individuals. I hope this letter reaches you in good spirit.

Thank you.

Khalif Gobin

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