Monday, June 17, 2024

Opening of PGIA and schools postponed; increase in COVID-19 cases could lead to quarantine of Ambergris Caye and Orange Walk

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The Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) will no longer re-open on August 15th as previously scheduled. Prime Minister Right Honourable Dean Barrow made this announcement on Wednesday, August 5th during a virtual press conference. Additionally, islanders were informed that there could be 14 potential positive cases of COVID-19 in San Pedro Town, whose confirmation will be made by Thursday, August 6th the latest.

File Photo: Dr. Marvin Manzanero

Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero said that the initial processing of around 50-55 samples from the island was signalling about 14 confirmed cases of the disease. However, before releasing such information, the tests would undergo a confirmation process. In the process of locating the origin of the surge, Dr. Manzanero also indicated that a construction project belonging to the suspected index case, is under investigation. The project hires a large work force from the mainland, including people from the Orange Walk District where there has been a spike in cases. As such, it is being investigated as the origin of Case #57.

Dr. Manzanero briefly touched on the fact that several persons claim to have been denied swabbing when visiting the Mar de Tumbo flu clinic. He said that no one should be turned back, but that they are prioritizing persons with the visible symptoms and who are part of the ongoing contact tracing. The cases on the island have also been attributed to latest public events such as the Grand Caribe Deep Sea Fishing Tournament. So far, the cases from Orange Walk and Corozal Districts and Ambergris Caye, have not been considered community spread yet.

International Airport re-opening postponed

As previously indicated by Barrow, the PGIA re-opening would be at stake given the effects of the pandemic in the country. A frustrated prime minister made the initial announcement that the re-opening of the international airport would have to wait until a better time in the near the future. He anticipates that date may come in September.

Any Belizeans that were looking forward to return home on August 15th, can try to do so on the weekly repatriation flights mainly offered via United Airlines. Upon arrival, they will be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

No lockdown yet

Many were expecting a lockdown declared on the hot areas with infections, but that did not happen. Although a lockdown could happen anytime on the island, Barrow said that such decisions would come after consulting with health and even the education authorities.

Schools not re-opening

In addition, the new school year will not begin on August 10th as expected, due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. According to Minister of Education Honourable Patrick Faber, the opening of classrooms will be delayed as they continue to monitor the situation with this pandemic. Adjustments will be made as necessary in relation to the disease, including having schools in areas with low rates or no cases be able to open. Faber added that in regards of distance-learning programs and other preparations on re-opening of schools, these will be made public.

The government will update the nation on the current potential cases of additional COVID-19, the re-opening of the PGIA and schools as more information becomes available.

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