Guyana Examining Possibility Of ‘Vaccine Passport’

(CMC)— Guyana Wednesday hinted at the possibility of introducing a “vaccine passport” as Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries continue to record deaths and new cases linked to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

President Irfaan Ali told a news conference that his administration is prepared to examine all options to deal with the pandemic including a “vaccine passport” in the face of hesitancy by some people to get vaccinated as well as the recklessness of others in flouting the existing health protocols.

“To get back to normalcy, the introduction of a mass vaccination passport is being contemplated by many countries. In fact, we have already seen countries lower entry requirements for vaccinated persons,” Ali told reporters, adding “we here in Guyana will soon have to consider this option”.

President Ali said that given the fact that vaccination is not mandatory, his administration has to examine all means, including the vaccine passport, so the country can “move forward.”

“While the government is taking every step to have everyone vaccinated, it is the responsibility of every citizen, though not mandatory, to understand the importance of vaccination. These vaccines come with a shelf life, cost for storage and transportation, which are enormous and will not forever be available,” he added.

He was critical of those who continue to go about their activities in a reckless manner and are flouting the COVID-19 guidelines, promising that more law enforcement officials would be deployed to ensure compliance.

“Regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not, we must all follow the COVID-19 guidelines. We had hoped that common sense would have prevailed in following the established guidelines but unfortunately it hasn’t. The enforcement, therefore, of these guidelines will be further strengthened and enhanced,” President Ali told reporters.

So far this month, Guyana has registered 58 deaths from the pandemic, the most in any month since the virus was first recorded here last March. More than 125,000 persons have already been vaccinated under the government’s ongoing vaccination programme.

There have been calls for the government to tighten the existing curfew but President Ali said that discussions with the COVID-19 Task Force and other stakeholders have not found support for any adjustment of the curfew.

In St Lucia, the Ministry of Health and Wellness reported six new cases of the virus over the past 24 hours. There has also been one death, bringing the total to 74.

The ministry said that the new cases were from a sample of 98 taken between April 23-24. The authorities said that 17 people had recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of active cases in country to date to 88.

St Lucia has 4,508 diagnosed cases since last March.

In the Bahamas, the authorities are reporting 55 new cases of the virus and one more virus-related death.

The new cases bring the nation’s overall tally to 10,220 and the authorities said that the latest victim is a 45-year-old man from Bimini. His death has pushed the nation’s death toll to 198, according to the latest data released from the Ministry of Health.