Border jumpers continue to be a problem in Belize, as seventeen out of the last thirty cases were linked to those illegally crossing the border. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of National Security has been working tirelessly to try and prevent a community spread that could be caused if a border jumper with the virus is not quarantined. Today, we asked the Prime Minister, who is the chair of the National Oversight Committee, about strategies put in place to prevent this illegal activity. He stated that there have been more boots on the ground as it relates to border patrols and also made mention of the recently installed hotlines that residents can use to anonymously report border jumpers. He made an appeal to those who participate in the activity to consider the ramifications their actions can have on their family and other members of the community. Those that are captured and placed into quarantine have been costing the government as there are several facilities that must be maintained and guarded. PM Barrow stated that, to cut costs, they will be embarking on having one single quarantining facility.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “We’re going to centralize the quarantining of these border jumpers. There are now separate facilities ITVET in San Ignacio, perhaps ITVET also in Corozal, various hotels it’s costing government a pretty penny because you can’t oblige the border jumpers to pay for their quarantining when you catch them you quarantine them and at the end they face their charges in the Magistrate’s court and if they’re convicted and if they can’t pay they go to jail again at a cost to the state but we are trying to centralize a sort of quarantine facility. We’re using premises not too far from the capital city of Belmopan, some kind landowner is donating the space to us for as long as the program lasts we have to put some new temporary buildings there and we have to refurbish the buildings but it would mean that instead of the security forces that have to guard the facilities being spread out all over the country that centralization will lead to some reduction in the cost to government. We’ll have to upfront monies but at the end of the day when we look at it over a let’s say six month period and this thing is surely going to be with us for even longer than that we end up spending less. If we do the centralization we also make the guarding of those in quarantine easier so that’s another arrow in our quiver, another string to our bow.”
The matter of border jumpers was also discussed in today’s Sitting of the Senate. We will have more on that further in this newscast.