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    First Published: 28th March, 2020

    Last updated: March 28, 2020 at 15:05 pm

    On the 21st of March 2020, when the first 2 cases of the coronavirus was reported in Boa Vista , Brazil, which is about 100 miles south of Lethem, authorities in Lethem pushed for and successfully executed the closure of the Guyana/Brazil border.

    Residents of Lethem and Bonfim cross the Takutu River Bridge to get from one country to another.

    Initially, the border was only partially closed, with concessions for commuters to pass within a one-hour time frame in the mornings and afternoons. However, on the 25th of March, 2020, when Brazilian Media reported the first two coronavirus cases in neighboring Bonfim, the border went on “complete lockdown.”

    Brazilian soldiers now guard the Guyana/Brazil border on the Brazil side.

    That means, from the 26th of March, no one was allowed to go from Lethem to Bonfim or back. Bonfim is a Brazilian muncipality which is located just across the Takutu River Bridge – literally a few away steps from Lethem.

    The Brazilian Municipality of Bonfim which borders with Lethem.

    Today, 28th of March, it was reported that the total coronavirus cases in Boa Vista – which is one hundred miles away from Lethem – climbed from 2 cases on the 21st of March to a total of 12 cases as of this morning. Additionally, dozens more suspected cases are presently being investigated.

    While the initial two cases of coronavirus that had reached Boa Vista on the 21st of March has been successfully cured, and the Brazilian Health Authorities proudly announced it yesterday, 27th of March, the deadly and highly contagious virus shows no signs of letting up.

    It has once again reared its ugly head in the border municipality of Bonfim – bringing the total number of confirmed cases up to 3 as of yesterday, 27th of March. In addition, a total of 33 suspected cases are being monitored in Bonfim.

    Approaching the Takutu River Bridge from Bonfim, Brazil.

    Needless to say, this development has been the cause for heightened alarm in Lethem and the general Rupununi Savannahs of Guyana. Now, in addition to a complete lockdown of the border with Brazil, a number of public figures and residents in general are calling on the Armed forces to patrol the banks of the Takutu River to monitor areas that could be used for illegal crossings by both Guyanese and Brazilians.

    Entering Brazil after crossing the Takutu River Bridge.

    However, this publication understands that food and consumer goods will be allowed to pass from Brazil into Guyana during a designated time period every Thursdays. In this case, only the driver of the vehicle will be allowed to enter and will subsequently leave after the goods have been discharged.

    The situation has turned Lethem into a virtual ghost town. Now isolated from the rest of the world, there is stagnated economy and little to no circulation of currency. Most hotels are either closed or out of business, and all of the 25 + Chinese stores are closed. A few of the local restaurants and supermarkets are still operating within normal working hours, and some within reduced hours.

    Chinese stores across Lethem have been closed for several weeks now.
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