Sunday, July 14, 2024

Additional cases of COVID-19 on the island could jeopardize the re-opening of PGIA and its schools


The opening of the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) on August 15th might be affected if additional cases of COVID-19 are detected in San Pedro Town. Prime Minister Right Honourable Dean Barrow expressed his frustration and worry during the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives on Monday, August 3rd, regarding the issue, and stated that if there are signs of community spread on the island, there will be no hesitation to place it under quarantine.

Barrow said that his administration is preparing for the worst, referring to the possible COVID-19 community spread in San Pedro. He shared that at least four persons are showing symptoms of the
virus, including loss of the sense of taste and smell. These individuals will be tested today. The recently diagnosed female islander is known to have been in direct contact with some 40 persons, and thus respective samples have been taken for testing.

According to the Prime Minister, the infected person was in an occupation (job) where she has to deal with a host of people, and he, therefore, expects that the Ministry of Health’s mapping exercise will likely produce several additional positive cases. If this is the case, the island could be locked down, regardless of the consequences it may have on the re-opening of the PGIA.

Opening of schools on the island could be delayed
The Minister of Education, Youth, Culture, and Sports, Honourable Patrick Faber mentioned that the re-opening of schools on the island could be delayed if additional cases are detected in San Pedro. Faber added that although schools are to open on August 10th, other places across the country could also see a delay in the opening of classrooms if cases continue to emerge there.

Opposition’s Area Representative Kareem Musa suggests denying entry to visitors from the United States of America
The Area Representative for Caribbean Shores, Honourable Kareem Musa from the People’s United Party (Opposition) touched on the proposed Quarantine amendment to the Immigration Act. This
amendment would deny visitors from entering Belize if they fail to submit a COVID-19 screening test.
Musa asked what would happen to the international visitor; if they would be quarantined overnight, or will the returning flight be delayed so they can leave the country immediately. Musa highlighted the infected person on the island and the fact that the Geo-bracelet to track visitors is yet to arrive in the
country. He suggested that the Government reconsider opening the PGIA to tourists originating from the United States of America (USA).
The USA currently has over 4.5 million cases of COVID-19, and surges of cases have been reported in states like Texas and Florida, from where direct flights can be taken to Belize. A suggestion was also
shared with the Belize Tourism Board to perhaps focus more on the European or Canadian market instead of mainly the USA.

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