Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2020. 8:03 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: On a day his administration ordered even tighter social controls to counter further spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Dean Barrow has addressed the nation to have hope and count our blessings, naming them one by one.
But first, he acknowledged “the excruciatingly stressful time” caused by “the greatest crisis of modern times”, particularly for the elderly, the unemployed and those on the frontlines.
To them, he said, “…you are not alone, neither in your anxiety about the present challenges nor your preoccupation about the future.”
To the rest of Belize, he acknowledged that even though the depth nor duration of battle with a lethal and slippery enemy is yet clear, Belize is well positioned.
Belize can feed itself, both with locally produced goods and what we need from abroad through the unbroken supply chain.
The Government has arrayed its plans for aid to the newly unemployed and the longer unemployed; commercial banking and credit union support to business and the self-employed; and one form or another of customer relief from our utility providers and says it will do more as it comes.
And the team of public health care professionals—reinforced by a first rate medical brigade from Cuba and buttressed by a massive investment in emergency equipment and supplies—will relentlessly identify, isolate and treat cases of COVID-19, the Prime Minister assures.
In the circumstances, he reminded, there is no need to panic, hoard, nor spread false news to create panic. Even in the event of a national shutdown, the most basic goods and services will still be available.
Barrow said, “This crisis, like no other, demands a unity of effort, a spirit of collaboration, an overflow of fellow feeling and a pouring forth of all the reserves of national humanitarianism and patriotic solidarity.
Therefore: Practice good personal hygiene; distance yourself socially for this crisis period; isolate yourself and report Corona symptoms to the health authorities; adhere, without exception, to emergency and health guidelines; and, above all, be prepared to lend a helping hand to your neighbor, your friend, your fellow Belizean.”
He also made time to thank the other faces of the moment – the Doctors Marvin Manzanero, CEO Dr. George Gough, Minister of Health Pablo Marin, the front line workers at the KHMH and the other public hospitals; the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues; and all the social partners represented on the National Oversight Committee and the National COVID-19 Task Force.
While, Barrow says, he personally has benefited from this national partnership and its collective decision-making, the buck stops with him.
And he concludes, “[This crisis] will challenge our resilience.
It will test our endurance. I have every confidence and not a single doubt, though, that this too shall pass; that we will once more emerge into our famed, golden, life-affirming Belizean sunlight; that we shall overcome; and that at the end of our trials we shall be once more grasping with both hands the overflowing cup that a beneficent providence has always reserved for us. We are fortune’s child; and we will rebound to seize that special destiny marked by fate for this special land.”
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