Article First Published: 21st of March 2020 at 6 PM.
Up to a few minutes ago, I was ready to boast that there was no coronavirus case within a 100 miles radius of the isolated Guyanese town of Lethem in Region 9, Guyana, South America. All of that has just changed as Roraima, Brazil reported its first two confirmed cases of the coronavirus this afternoon around 5 PM on March 21, 2020.
The town of Lethem borders the Brazilian State of Roraima to the south. Right across the border with Lethem is the Brazilian municipality of Bonfim. The capital city of Roraima, Boa Vista, lies just about 100 miles away from Bonfim – or two hours’ driving. There is a daily bus service which runs from Boa Vista to Lethem’s border town, Bonfim about 3 times per day.
It was reported that a couple who had recently traveled from the state of Sao Paulo in the South of Brazil to Boa Vista in the North displayed symptoms of the virus. Tests were conducted and the results came back positive for coronavirus this afternoon, Saturday, March 21. Residents of Boa Vista are being advised to stay at home as new measures are being put in place to contain the spread of the virus.
Although the border between Guyana and Brazil had been formally closed a few days ago, it is still opened for a few hours everyday for commuters who work in Lethem or persons who reside in both places. However, there is no stamping of passports for persons traveling further into Brazil.
Also, since the Rupununi largely depends on Boa Vista for food and consumer items, there have been concessions to allow goods to pass within specific hours. In addition, residents of Lethem have observed vehicles from Boa Vista somehow penetrating the border and entering into Lethem. The residents are now calling for a complete blockage of Boa Vista vehicles from entering Lethem.
As of this afternoon, March 21st, 2020, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases across Brazil has climbed past 1100, with at least 15 persons dead from the virus.