Jean Castex at the bedside of Guyana facing the coronavirus epidemic


Volunteers come to the aid of people in difficulty during the health crisis in Guyana on July 7, 2020. – AFP

The situation is serious and the executive wants to show that it is well aware of it. Prime Minister Jean Castex is expected in Guyana on Sunday for an eight-hour express visit, to ensure “the full mobilization of the State” in this French territory of South America facing the rampant epidemic of coronavirus.

For his first trip to Overseas since his appointment to Matignon, Jean Castex should focus on the health issue of this territory of 300,000 inhabitants large like Portugal, in the midst of the rising phase of the Covid-19 epidemic and where the centers hospitals are in high tension. Accompanied by the Minister of Overseas Sébastien Lecornu and the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, he will travel to Cayenne to the interministerial crisis center which has just been set up, under the orders of crisis director Patrice Latron, who arrived on Thursday from Paris. He must also meet hospital staff and elected officials.

5,949 confirmed cases of coronavirus

Then he will go to the Cayenne hospital and to the Pasteur Institute. Guyana, still under a health emergency like Mayotte, had 5,949 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Saturday – including 130 hospitalizations and 23 intensive care patients – and 26 deaths. The peak of the epidemic is expected in the second half of July.

The head of government who arrives at 3 p.m. intends to mark that “the Republic is united and united and that it in no way abandons Guyana”, he declared in an interview with the newspaper France-Guyane. “I come (…) with the desire to prepare France for a possible second wave” but “by preserving economic life, social life”, warned Jean Castex on Wednesday.

Proximity to Brazil has played a role

The epidemic has increased sharply in Guyana since the deconfinement, while the territory had been relatively spared when the metropolis was faced with the full expansion of the virus. Guyana was confined on March 16 to stage 1 of the epidemic, with less than 10 cases. But since May, due in particular to the proximity of Guyana to neighboring Brazil, which has been badly affected, the virus has been harming the already fragile health system. The three hospitals in the territory – the Cayenne, Kourou and western Guyana hospitals – already mobilized for patients victims of leptospirosis or dengue, launched their white plans last weekend.

More than a hundred members of the health reserve are already on site and, on Friday, 22 soldiers from the health service of the armies and health equipment arrived to support the Center hospitalier de l’Ouest guyanais (CHOG) in Saint -Laurent du Maroni. A civil defense field hospital was also installed at the Cayenne hospital center to receive non-Covid patients.

Health evacuations carried out

Population and elected officials regularly claim the arrival of the military field hospital which was already mobilized in Mulhouse and Mayotte during the crisis and has resuscitation beds. Impossible according to the Minister of Health, because it is a structure “which takes a long time to be dismantled, transported and reassembled”. Several medical evacuations of patients have been carried out to Guadeloupe and Martinique, but the lack of places in West Indian hospitals are starting to be felt, said the director of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) Clara de Bort.

To curb the epidemic, targeted reconfinement measures in certain districts or communes have been put in place, and a curfew is in force. The Prime Minister is especially expected by the Mayouri health Guyana collective, composed of the main militant and political forces behind the great social movement of 2017, which calls for additional measures and means against the epidemic, and a greater number of tests. “There are structural difficulties which I intend to tackle”, such as “the access of Guyanese people to public services and healthcare or even to the capacity of the local economy to generate employment and prospects, “said the Matignon tenant in France-Guyana.

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