The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) announced on Tuesday, March 31, that the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (GEO) in Timehri and Eugene F. Correia International Airport (OGL) will remain closed to all incoming flights until May 1. The decision was made based on advice from the Ministry of Public Health and the government over the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
GEO and OGL were initially closed to all international flights for 14 days from midnight (local time), Wednesday, March 18, in order to prevent imported cases of COVID-19. Outbound flights for cargo deliveries, medivac, fuel stops, and special authorized flights are exempted from the closure.
As of Wednesday, April 1, authorities confirmed at least 19 cases of the virus in Guyana, including two fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.