Border jumpers – they come into Belize via illegal crossings and undocumented. They also pose a great risk for Belizeans when they come in from the neighboring countries that are facing thousands of cases of Covid-19. Security units have been manning the areas in an effort to minimize the illegal entries, and according to the Minister of National Security, Michael Peyrefitte, they will be upping their patrols.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “We lock them up whenever we find them and we have made the penalties even stiffer and we’re looking into putting more personnel on the borders to try and police the borders while at the same time remembering we only have so many police officers, BDF and coast guard. I know people want to see a policeman or a BDF or a Coast Guard everywhere they turn but we’re limited by numbers. We realize the border jumping is the greatest threat to us when it comes to the COVID pandemic so we’re doing everything to clog the hole so to speak on a very very porous border for which people for generations have just been accustomed to jumping the border with impunity. So we have a situation where we have to make sure we change the mindset and educate people about the dangers of jumping the borders to begin with but when we find that people have jumped the borders then we make sure that we detain them and isolate them to ensure that if they’re positive for COVID-19 they don’t infect the rest of us. And that’s been the approach and we hope to have hotlines open where people can call so they can immediately report on people who they suspect to be border jumpers so we can investigate and determine if indeed that person was a border jumper or not.”
During the interview with Minister Peyrefitte yesterday, he made a comparison of the cases that are brought in by the repatriates and the border jumpers.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security: “It started out with us seeing the numbers increase and it’s still the case to a large extent by people who import the disease. So couple people who came in legitimately they thought they were clean but they were asymptomatic but they had the disease. So before we started to allow people to come in in a controlled way then we had no more cases for about fifty odd days then as soon as we started to bring people in then we started to see the cases go up. And while the airport that we plan to open August 15th may seem more of an alarm to certain people it is not necessarily as bad as the borders because then with the airport you can control it to a certain extent. You can know who is coming in there will be rapid tests done, PCR tests if necessary and they will be quarantine like facilities at the airport so you can control it. With the border jumpers you can’t control is so when a person comes in to the country illegally and that person starts to mix with people you don’t know that that person was across the border if you don’t catch them coming across. So it’s a huge challenge but we’re trying to be extra vigilant on the borders and we will do our very best to make sure that people who go over into Mexico can’t come back in or people who are over there can’t come in in the first place.”
Belize currently has sixteen active cases of Covid-19.