Meanwhile, the Omicron variant continues to spread across the world. As a result, businesses in large economies are beginning to take a toll. In the US, the number of COVID hospitalizations is expected to increase dramatically because of the new variant. Majority of tourists are from the US or transit the US before arriving in Belize so the Omicron variant will eventually make it here. Prime Minister John Briceno says it’s just a matter of time.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “I wish I could tell you that Omicron is not going to come to Belize, it will come probably it’s already here and we don’t know. When I was asked about Delta I said the same, thing it will come. Most of our tourists are from the United States and Omicron has been found in probably about 47 or 48 states already so it’s just a matter of time. It’s now a matter of what’s being prepared the first thing is that we need to get vaccinated and then secondly to maintain the protocols and to be as careful as we possibly can period but coming to schools the schools have to open and we cannot run away from not opening the schools our children are almost two years out of the classroom and we’re doing a disservice to them and also a disservice of the country because if they’re not properly prepared when they become adults they will not be able to take over the helm of religion, of education, of business, or governance. So we have to get back to school I don’t care what anybody has to say. I have my cousin who live in the United states an her husband, both of them are Belizeans. one is a vice principal of a primary school and the next is a principal of a primary school they said they’ve been open over a year ago. What they found is that for the first 2-3 weeks they will see as spike of COVID but right after that it flattens and then it just start continue to monitor as soon as somebody seems to be sick or having a coffee do the testing and then you send them home for proper monitoring. So it’s not a matter if it’s a matter of we have to open the schools.”
PM Briceno says that Cabinet has been discussion to implement self-testing protocols. However, there are challenges to this idea as the PM explained.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “We have had that discussion in the last cabinet meeting and what we have asked is that the Ministry of Health to take a look at how we can start to do self testing. The concern of the Ministry of Health have, the technical people have, is that it would be difficult for them to be able to keep track of the number of people that are getting sick and where they’re getting sick, who it is that they’re getting sick. Presently they don’t go to tests but the problem is, the point is presently right now with the ministry doing testing and having different groups doing the testing there is a reporting mechanism that is sent to the ministry and so at least with that they could start to do some kind of projections to see about how the spread is going, where it is, and what they need to do period now if we’re not reporting, if you do a self testing which I think the time has come I believe to do self testing, we will still have to try to find a way hopefully soon when that time comes that when you do a self test that you will be able or required to do some reporting to the ministry. Unfortunately many people don’t want to report because they know then that they’ll have to be isolated for I think it’s now 10 days but what they don’t realize is that when they don’t do that then they cause much more damage to other people that they could get other people who are innocent sick and then loss of life and even more loss to the country.”