Posted: Monday, June 15, 2020. 3:24 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: “I don’t know that we should be panicking…the panic should be that we have cases coming in illegally,” Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero told Breaking Belize News in a telephone interview this afternoon.
He was distinguishing between the cases of repatriated Belizeans returning via cruise ship or flight and whom tested positive for COVID-19 after ending quarantine, despite being asymptomatic, and the Belizean woman returning after crossing the border illegally, who is also asymptomatic.
And he added that the Ministry of Health has been asked to prepare documentation for potential regulations enshrining certain aspects of the emergency regulations such as mask-wearing and social distancing in public.
In his view, the protocol for repatriated Belizeans is straightforward: they are questioned before their return and as they touch shore they go immediately into quarantine for 14 days and then tested.
But have we internalized the message, he questioned, as to what we personally have planned in terms of avoiding COVID-19, as we would a hurricane? “We have had ample time to prepare; as the Ministry we continue to tweak our plans and to move along with efforts to scale up our areas that we can have potential cases. You never stop preparing because you don’t know what is going to happen…”
And he maintains the system is working, as the fact that the Ministry has been able to identify and isolate these cases mean they cannot affect anyone, although the “border jumper” case could be an issue.
The State of Emergency regulations still in effect heavily fine such violators $5,000 or two years in prison.
Moving forward, the Ministry is gearing up to develop documents to be presented next week for measures to be instituted from a public health standpoint. Such measures, he said, would be “understanding the liberties and such situations that we are entitled to; but whatever measures we feel need to be instituted to ensure we have a safer community, we will make those provisions and recommendations.”
Those provisions, when implemented, would govern such things as the September Celebrations, political conventions and gatherings and the General Elections when those are called.
And while he allowed that there is room for improvement especially from the community standpoint, Dr. Manzanero pronounced himself reasonably satisfied with the national handling of the health crisis. But he warned that the Government should not be held to expectations as to what it will do, but we each needed to be individually prepared and safe from a health perspective.
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