Within the last twelve weeks Belize has confirmed twenty one cases of Covid-19. The most recent was reported yesterday via a post on social media from the Director of Health Services, Dr Marvin Manzanero. The case is imported by a Belizean man who was a part of the repatriated group via United Airlines on Friday, June 12. As we have noted with cases 19 and 20, this is not a second wave and no clusters have been reported. As a matter of fact, the silver lining to the current situation is that all repatriated Belizeans must be quarantined upon arrival. For an update on the existing Covid-19 protocol our newsroom spoke with Dr Manzanero.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “You know when they’re going to be coming, you know what you’re going to do, you have the adequate mechanisms set in place to minimize exposure to anybody else that should not be from the surveillance standpoint it’s a no brainer if you will. I would be more concerned with those people like case number twenty who are jumping the border and arriving which many times can go undetected, in this particular case we were fortunate enough to have detected almost as she crossed the border. I am concerned for other reasons though I think we are concerned because it doesn’t seem that the message that we have been trying to get across to people for the last four or five months have gone anywhere and fear of the situation as it’s being circulating on social media is not really going to help. I’m seeing some very negative comments, some very stigmatizing comments and I don’t know that that helps the process. If we individually as a family, as a community are not prepared for COVID-19 cases then probably we didn’t learn our lesson.”
While officials have put in place the testing and quarantine protocols there is the problem of the border jumpers. Border jumpers are those persons who come into the country illegally via the informal entry points. As recent as last week one Belizean woman who was caught coming into the country illegally in the south was confirmed to be a positive Covid-19 patient. According to Dr. Manzanero these border jumpers are putting Belizeans at serious risk.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “I do know that as of the report today from the quarantine facility because some of the Guatemalans who had initially been caught are now being released so they will be taken to the legal process police or immigration wherever they’re going. For the matters I can give you the exact number I had this morning. Out of a hundred and five persons in quarantine facilities thirty three are foreigners; five Mexicans, twenty four Guatemalans and four Hondurans. As I said the vast amount of those Guatemalans will be going to face the legal process if they were caught entering illegally or the immigration process whichever one it is that they are in charge for. Well it’s going to be three entry points which is the north, south and the west. In some communities it’s easier than others, the flow then Arenal Village, and all the reports that come to us, the Halacte area and the other areas up north those I think are critical situations that require not only full support from the BDF and the police but the community as well and I don’t know that we’re going to be able to stem that completely. It is a work in progress but I think that’s where a potential wave can come if we have cases that are not being detected and they’re able to socialize and mingle with others once they’re returning back into the country particularly when you see there escalating numbers in Guatemala and Mexico.”
Case 21 remains under quarantine for fourteen days.