On March 5, the Government of Guyana began the roll out the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Up to this time, more than 25,000 Guyanese citizens have been vaccinated.
Since January 2021, the Government of Guyana approached several governments, manufacturers and agencies to procure vaccines for our citizens. We have so far approached the governments of India, Russia, China, the UAE, OIC, COVAX, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna. Other than donations made by India and China, Guyana is now procuring vaccines from various sources.
Notwithstanding the above, the Government of Guyana is aggressively pursuing a strategy to vaccinate as many Guyanese as would be necessary to attain herd immunity while eventually ensuring all Guyanese are vaccinated. Our goal is to vaccinate as many as 10,000 citizens per day.
To achieve this, the Government of Guyana is embarking on an integrative approach, including cabinet oversight, local government bodies, civil society, medical and nursing students and the medical brigade of the Guyana Defense Force. These personnel will be trained to assist in documentation of citizens so as to expediate the vaccination process.
Currently, the focus is on health workers and citizens 60 years and older. Early in the new week, the vaccination programme will be expanded to all persons 40 years and older.
To aggressively expand the programme, the Government of Guyana has procured 200,000 doses of vaccines and is exploring the further procurement of another 200,000 doses, aimed at achieving herd immunity in the fastest possible time frame.
In order to store and manage the vaccines and execute the task, the Ministry of Health has engaged various private sector players with capacity to assist.
To complement the vaccination efforts, the National COVID-19 Task Force has stepped up its enforcement to bring more effective compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines. An expanded joint operation between immigration, the army, police, Regional COVID-19 Task Force Committees, the private sector and other members of civil society have been engaged in further securing the borders.
While several religious and cultural events are ahead of us with celebration of Phagwah, Easter and the observance of Ramadan, we urge religious leaders and citizens to adhere strictly to the approved COVID-19 guidelines for these events.
The COVID-19 Task Force has been advised to pursue charges against owners of establishments that are found in breach of the COVID-19 guidelines.
In the coming days, the Guyana Defence Force will provide support of 400 officers to expedite the registration of citizens. Students from the medical and nursing programmes in Guyana will volunteer and lend support to this expanded and aggressive vaccination programme.
All volunteers will also be vaccinated to limit their exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
The pandemic remains a serious national issue, a major global health concern. I urge you to continue to follow the guidelines. I urge you to continue to stay safe. I urge you to continue to protect your families and your communities by adhering to the COVID19 guidelines. We are not ahead of the curve, we are still managing this deadly pandemic. We need all stakeholders, we need all Guyanese on board.
Whilst we have sought to strike the balance between economy and the health management of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to be responsible. Businesses must understand that it is critical for them to adhere to the 40% occupancy, to adhere to the protocols that customers should follow whilst using their establishment and to ensure that they protect their fellow Guyanese brothers and sisters. We have lost too many lives already.
The Government is sparing no efforts in ensuring that we get vaccinated as quickly as possible but we too, all of us, have a responsibility to help in this process. I urge you to take seriously the guidelines of the COVID-19 Task Force, as together we rally to ensure we get out of this pandemic as quickly as possible.
Continue to stay safe and may God bless all of you.
Thank you very much.