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Preparing for a hurricane in the midst of a pandemic

Hurricane shelters have been identified and their planning has included provisions for the Covid-19 situation in Belize.  Colonel Defore says it will be a challenge and there are things that will come up that they will have to figure out.

Hurricane shelters have been identified and their planning has included provisions for the Covid-19 situation in Belize.  Colonel Defore says it will be a challenge and there are things that will come up that they will have to figure out.

Sheldon Defore, NEMO Coordinator: We have identified or are identifying shelters that would have to be labelled as COVID-19 hurricane shelters because it depends on the scenario where you may have an overwhelming amount of persons who are COVID-19 positive or high risks and like that and so we already identified the best solution based on the fact that we’re working with the Ministry of Health and we have quarantine centers is now to look at the list of shelters we have and to say maybe one in every so many shelters needs to be dubbed or labelled a COVID-19 hurricane shelter so if it comes to that then we know exactly how to separate people and to put people with COVID-19 where to put them rather in a specific building or shelter versus having them mixed together. The plan I’d like to reiterate the way it is set up at the regular shelter people will show up, some will show symptoms of COVID-19 they will have to be kept in an area in two classrooms or so they will be screened by the Ministry of Health and then they have to be referred under the Ministry of Health protocol whilst the others who enter they have to be temperature checked and wearing masks like I am wearing because this is a very serious business this COVID-19 risk is very high in terms of the probability of transmission and it’s a disease or a virus that could incapacitate, take life as we have seen so we are not gonna be light on people not following the Ministry of Health protocols in terms of wearing masks, social distance, hand washing or cleaning protocols on the like- that is the bedrock of the NEMO system in terms of dealing with evacuation and dealing with shelters.”

A second advisory from NEMO was issued this evening indicating that all persons in high-risk coastal areas are reminded IF the need arises for you to evacuate and you are (1) not COVID positive, (2) not in quarantine, (3) not awaiting a test result or (4) being contact traced, and (5) not showing symptoms, move early! You must wear a mask. Know which shelter you will go to, take along your essential necessities required for you to survive. People on arrival at the shelter showing symptoms will be contained in a separate section of the shelter building. Hand washing /sanitizing must be done before entering a shelter.