The Belize City Council is in prevention mode after four of its employees tested positive for Covid-19. The situation began unfolding last week when employee number one reported having symptoms and subsequently tested positive. According to the City Manager, Stephanie Garbutt, on Saturday, July 31 there was one case and by Wednesday, August 4 there were four cases total.
Stephanie Garbutt, City Administrator: “We don’t think it spread from one employee to the next at this time because these four employees don’t work in the same department, they don’t work in the same building or location. We think it’s just wider exposure to the other COVID cases that are being reported. However we put in what I think is a fairly good system in place that as soon as you notice any flu like or COVID like symptoms you need to report it to our HR department and if the symptoms are COVID like then you need to report it to the Ministry of Health and try to get tested. So the exposure we don’t feel is between employees it’s just their own exposure. Since we had employees reporting positive yesterday we’ve done sanitizations overnight so employees reported back into freshly sanitized work areas this morning. In terms of the public we continue with the measures that have been in place since March of last year you know the temperature checks on coming in, sanitization, we keep our employees stocked on sanitizer, we encourage social distancing in fact we try our best to enforce it. We continue to keep up with all the measures that the ministry has put in place and other measure that we have put in place ourselves. I mean even if an employee says I have a family member who has tested positive or who has taken a test sand I was with them we send them into isolation for at least three to five days to see if they too will develop any symptoms. We’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that there is no wide spread between our employees or between departments.”
There is no definitive figure as to how many employees at the Belize City Council have been vaccinated, but Garbutt indicated that there has been an increase since the SI-74 came into effect, mandating frontline workers to either get vaccinated or be tested every two weeks.
Stephanie Garbutt, City Administrator: “I would not be able to answer that right off. I know at the council we’ve done several vaccination campaigns and many of our employees have sought to be vaccinated. I know one of those who have tested positive had started the process but is not fully vaccinated as yet. Since the new regulations and mandating that certain people become vaccinated as front line workers and so on we’ve had more employees go to get vaccinated.”
Reporter: Are you getting any kind of reluctance or hesitance from the part of your front line workers in terms of doing the vaccine or doing the alternative which is the PCR testing ?
Stephanie Garbutt, City Administrator: “Well presently none of our employees qualify as front line workers so the vaccination is voluntary for the council’s staff at this point but we do encourage staff to get the right information and make an informed decisions on whether or not they want to be vaccinated. We certainly give them the the time they need to go and do that process and any recovery time that’s needed afterwards so we do encourage the vaccination but at this time it remains voluntary.”