Cayenne (AFP)

In Guyana, while patients severely affected by Covid continue to flow to the hospital, exhausted caregivers will work "with fear in their stomachs", faced with the aggressiveness of antivax.

"The hospital staff come to work with fear in their stomachs", assures Christiane Vanessche, care coordinator in a Cayenne hospital center affected by the wave of Covid-19.

Walking in the corridors of emergency care at the hospital, this health executive does not hide his concern about "rivalry between vaccinated and unvaccinated personnel".

"This duality is extremely worrying," she explains, also citing the state of fatigue of the teams and the wave of sick leave underway at the hospital, now reaching one in five staff.

The ARS of Guyana reported on Friday a level of deaths "never reached" in Guyana, where 21 people lost their lives in seven days as a result of Covid-19.

A little further on in the intensive care unit, it is very calm.

At the bedside of the patients lying down, some placed in an artificial coma, the faces are strained, but the smiles still cling to the faces of those who, masked for a year and a half, never let go.

"We are exhausted" confirms Christiane, a nurse wearing a blue protective gown.

"There is no clan here between the caregivers, on the other hand there is a lot of misunderstanding of our work on the part of the families of the patients. They do not trust us and that creates a lot of tension", explains the young woman.

Nursing staff take care of a patient in an intensive care unit for patients with Covid-19 at Cayenne hospital on September 25, 2021 jody amiet AFP

"There is a lot of incivility against caregivers, who are the result of a general fed up with the population", explains Professor Jean Pujo in the semi-darkness of the entrance to the service emergencies.

"The caregivers feel alone" in the face of this violence, explains in turn with great weariness Guillaume Icher, the head of the Cayenne vaccinodrome, who regrets that there is "no political support".

For months, Guyana has been under more or less tight semi-confinements.

Restaurants and entertainment centers are still closed.

Sporting and social life is mixed, causing many tensions to which are added operations carried out by minority groups opposed to the vaccination obligation and the health pass.

On Monday, the progress of a vaccination campaign organized in Cayenne by The Red Cross was thus disrupted by antivax.

- Go find the undecided -

In front of the press, the overseas minister Sébastien Lecornu, traveling in Guyana until September 28, expressed on Saturday his "concern" about "the future of Guyana". "Because where life returns to normal in other territories, in Guyana the exceptions are maintained with restrictions on freedoms". "People in intensive care are completely unvaccinated, it is an epidemic of unvaccinated people," he repeated, not ruling out the risk of a "West Indian scenario".

And these restrictions could continue because the vaccination campaign in Cayenne is in full "crash": "We are at 10% of our daily capacities, it is the lowest rate that we have ever recorded", explains Guillaume Icher, that is to say the passage of 60-70 people per day in the largest city of the territory.

A nurse provides care to a patient with Covid-19 at the Cayenne hospital on September 25, 2021 jody amiet AFP

At the same time, 25 to 30 Covid patients are admitted to the Cayenne emergency room every day.

The intensive care unit has tripled its bed capacity since the start of the pandemic.

For Claude Flamand, epidemiologist at the Institut Pasteur in Guyana, the stakes are high.

To date, complete immunization coverage has barely reached "30.5%" in those over 12 years old according to official data.

"10% of the population is covidosceptic, 15% are vaccine-skeptics who prefer natural immunity and traditional remedies and 25% of the population are undecided," explains the epidemiologist.

According to him, "it is the undecided ones that the authorities will have to seek out. They are not against vaccination but they say they are" not yet ready ".

© 2021 AFP