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GOB Announces New COVID-19 Testing Measures

Getting vaccinated may not be as complicated or as painful as getting tested. Starting September 1 referrals will no longer be accepted at the public health facilities for Covid testing. A release from the Ministry of Health has indicated that unless a person is identified as part of a contact tracing exercise testing will not be randomly conducted. Again, this new rule applies only to the public health facilities. The release goes on to say to inform employers and supervisors not to send staff personnel to be swabbed at the clinics, but rather to wait for the ministry to conduct a proper contact tracing exercise to determine who the true close contacts to a positive case are. The ministry says that the optimum time for swabbing is three to five days after the last exposure to the positive case. If a household member has tested positive and is isolated at home, all members of that home are considered exposed and must quarantine for 14 days. Once the 14 days are up, persons will be contacted by a health care personnel and will be advised when and where to return for a clearance letter. In Wednesday’s release, the ministry also recommended that all businesses make arrangements for staff to work on a shift system and allow as many staff to work from home as possible. There is an exception to this new rule, however, as persons with flu-like symptoms will be attended to at the public health facilities.

Another announcement coming from the government has to do with an increase in illegal gambling taking place within unauthorized establishments. According to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment, they along with law enforcement have been monitoring the various clandestine operations. With the popping up of these activities, the ministry now seeks to advise the public that the Gaming Control Board is the only legal entity that can issue a license for gaming activity in Belize. Currently, there are only five licensed gaming premises (casinos) in the country that are allowed to have live games such as poker, blackjack, etc. These licensed gaming premises are: the Princess Entertainment (Free Zone) Limited in Corozal; El Dorado Investment Limited also in Corozal; the Casino Tropicana Company Limited in Belize City; the Princess Entertainment (Belize) Limited in Belize City and the Princess International (San Ignacio) Limited. The government noted that any other company or person who conducts, hosts, or promotes live games or card games for monetary profit is doing so illegally and could be brought to face criminal charges.