A state of emergency was declared just before two o’clock this afternoon by Prime Minister Dean Barrow. The State of Emergency comes after the third case of COVID-19 was confirmed yesterday evening. In his nine and a half minute address, Prime Minister Dean Barrow spoke on various issues including the readiness of our health sector, the importance of social distancing and the availability of food for the country. We’ll share the details of those aspects later in the news. First, we go to the case of patient number three who resides in Belize City.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “As we all now know yesterday a Belizean that had returned from New York on March 20th tested positive for the novel coronavirus. That person claims to have been in self isolation since his arrival back in Belize and was able to show health workers the contained and separate lower flat of the building in which his claimed isolation took place. The individual, though testing positive, is exhibiting only mild symptoms and is not currently in need of hospitalization. Nevertheless he is living in Belize City, home to the largest population concentration in our country. For the National Oversight Committee and for the Cabinet of Belize this is very significant. Clearly the crowds in the old capital make us more susceptible to widespread transmission thus a comprehensive tracing of the afflicted individual’s possible contacts and a wider mapping exercise are both being done by the Ministry of Health team. In this connection both the evidence from other countries and the advice from our own experts agree on one thing- the best way to at least slow and hopefully stop the spread of the virus is by strictly enforcing the physical distancing, self isolation, quarantining and other such rules. Even though we have already imposed a state of emergency for Ambergris Caye and passed two statutory instruments imposing penalties including jail time for those that do not comply with the law, too many Belizeans are not taking the measures seriously enough. In all the circumstances we consider it our duty now to do even more to prevent any chance of Belize City becoming an epicenter of COVID-19 indeed to try to protect our entire country from the novel coronavirus. Accordingly I will be advising his Excellency the Governor General to declare a nationwide state of emergency for the country of Belize. This will go into effect at midnight on Wednesday April 1st and will include a curfew from 8pm to 5am everyday.”