While several persons in Belize have taken to social media to complain about the stark increases in items such as masks, hand sanitizers, disinfectant sprays, the Belize Bureau of Standards is yet to receive a formal complaint on this issue of price gouging. With the imminent arrival of the coronavirus, COVID-19, Belizeans are stocking up on these items and are reporting on social media that in some cases the prices have tripled. Love News spoke with Jose Trejo of the Belize Bureau of Standards who explained that unfortunately, these items are not price-controlled.
Jose Trejo, Director, Belize Bureau of Standards: “I don’t know that we have, I’ll be honest with you that we have physically sat down and any face to dace discussions with the Ministry of Health on how we could coordinate the effort So I will tell you out rightly that that discussion has not been had. There have been exchanges in terms of messages and so on but some plan, some action, some coordination has not been done as yet. I do anticipate though that coming out of the discussions that they will have with Cabinet I understand that Cabinet will meet today there is some discussion that is being tabled on this matter and we will await whatever the outcome of that is then I guess all parties will be advised then I guess we will have that discussion. I don’t know that we are in a state of emergency with respect to this situation here so I don’t know how it would trigger any legal instrument from that authority. You know when it comes to hurricanes and so on yeah we normally they would be able to set a freeze on prices for those basic commodities that one would need during a crisis or natural disaster. I don’t know how they would treat this one and again I’m not a legal person to tell you how they would be able to etch that into law.
Reporter: Have you gotten any complaints at the bureau regarding the price gouging of certain things like sanitizers, disinfectants, masks, that sort of thing?
Jose Trejo, Director, Belize Bureau of Standards: “That we have ? No we haven’t”
Love News understands that Cabinet met today to discuss the issue of the coronavirus as well as the price gouging. Meanwhile, in an interview with the Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, he noted that the masks are not necessarily required.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “I think there is just like when you have a hurricane situation coming on board however the issue with masks we have gotten those reports, we won’t as Ministry of Health be able to go and control that we are barely able to keep up with all the rumors happening and the rumor surveillance in that regard. We can alert the Belize Bureau of Standards and I think we should encourage people to go down that route in terms of any hiking up of prices, masks and everything else. Masks are not recommended I don’t know where we got this notion and it gives people a false sense of security. So if people want to wear a mask but don’t want to wash their hands and again it’s going to be two, three months that you wear a mask and then what then after that. It’s not going to work, it’s not recommended anywhere in the world for people to wear masks. The general public we are going to buy it and we have it in stock for our frontline workers that is where it’s going to go. Masks should only be worn for those who are sick, who are coughing, sneezing and that’s to minimize the spread to other surfaces, hands or whatever but not for people who are healthy, I mean it’s not going to work. So people who have bought it maybe they should donate it to the Ministry of Health we might have a better use for that but nor recommended definitely not. “