Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo indicated yesterday that the list has been forwarded to Guyana’s National COVID-19 Task Force.
“We have received a partial list from the consulate in New York and that partial list has placed the number at 34. It is not a global list as Guyanese live and work everywhere on this planet,” Nagamootoo said during a virtual press conference on the work of the task force.
He added that the government is relying on the missions globally to provide information regarding Guyanese who have lost their lives due to the disease.
Barbara Atherly, the Consulate General of Guyana in New York, has since created a Facebook page—“Honoring Guyanese lost to Coronavirus”—where persons are invited to post photographs and details of their relatives who lost their lives as a result of COVID-19.
In a letter posted as the cover photo of the page, Atherly explained that the page has been created for families and persons desirous of doing so could add the names of their dearly departed in order for tribute to be paid to them.
Tributes have since steadily flowed to Guyanese across varying demographics of age, gender and race.
Among them are elderly Guyanese, such as 87-year-old Godfrey Pilgrim, said to be “formerly of East Housing Scheme,” 75-year-old Deenanauth Achibar, formerly of Number 73 Village, Berbice, and 72-year-old Murtland McPherson, formerly of Perth Village, Mahaicony.
However, a significant number of those lost are young and middle-aged individuals, such as Prea Nankieshore, a 34-year-old mother of eight-year-old twins.
Nankieshore worked in the emergency department at Long Island Jewish Hospital Forest Hills in Queens, helping to register patients.
According to her fiancé, Marcus Khan, Nankieshore continued to work amidst the pandemic because she refused to leave the hospital understaffed. “We lost a dedicated mother with a heart of gold,” Khan told ABC7. “We lost a sister. We lost a friend. I lost the love of my life.”
For some families, more than one member has been lost to the pandemic as is the case for the family of Vishnu and Vijay Baichu, a father and son who died within a day of each other.
The consulate has repeatedly expressed condolences to the family of those lost to the disease.
Meanwhile, according to Nagamootoo, the government is aware that a number of Guyanese are presently stranded overseas and are desirous of returning to their homeland.
However, he said due to the present situation in the country, this cannot be facilitated.
Nagamootoo said among those who wish to return are some 10,000 to 12,000 Guyanese presently in New York. “…We don’t have a list of Guyanese who are stuck. We have Guyanese who have requested that they would like to come back home including an estimated 200 Guyanese citizens, nationals who have been working on cruise ships. They are, I was told, a likely number in excess of 80 in Miami, in Florida and there are some 10,000 to 12,000 Guyanese in New York, who, if they could, will come back to Guyana,” he said.Guyana has since closed its ports of entry to all international flights in an effort to stop the spread of the disease. However, despite this, a number of persons were still allowed to return to travel out of the country via chartered flights based on requests.
“We have closed our airspace but we have allowed flights to go out. Perhaps close to a thousand, American, Canadian and other foreign nationals, they have flown out of Guyana on their own choice and they have gone by way of charted flights,” Nagamootoo added.
He said requests were made by some of these individuals to return home as recent as of Good Friday. “We are aware of requests from Guyanese, up to yesterday (Friday) that they want to come back home and we said that we are on a lockdown of our airspace and no flights will come in until such a time as the order expires or it is varied or amended,” Nagamootoo said.
“So we will have to look in a very dynamic, in a very creative way how our incidents are mounting. We have 40 cases right now, with six having died, so we have to look at the incidents as they arise and review some of these measures but I cannot say at the moment that any such consideration is active,” he added.
Nagamootoo has urged Guyanese overseas to empathize with the government during the period and to exercise patience as they wait a “while longer” to return home.
He explained that in order for this to be happen, measures have to be put in place, including the availability of quarantine facilities.
“…We would like to see you back home but for the moment we would like you to sit it out for a while longer until we are able to give ourselves space to be able to deal with the number of cases here to see that we can do proper contact tracing, that we will be able to reduce the number of imported cases into the country, that we complete the arrangement to have facilities for the quarantining of persons who come from overseas. Whenever that could happen, they would have to subject themselves to the quarantining procedures, we have to have facilities and this would be for thousands of persons who may wish to come… at the moment we ask them to understand the challenges we face at home, that should everyone want to come back at the same time it will overwhelm our capacity, our medical and physical capacity to accommodate them and to give them the type of treatment they deserve,” Nagamootoo explained. (Additional reporting by Thandeka Percival)