By Aaron Humes: It has escaped no one that after the initial handful of cases of COVID-19 detected in late March and April died out, no cases were reported for close to 50 days, until the Government of Belize decided to allow Belizeans to repatriate home from cruise ships and elsewhere.
Another 1,000 are expected to come home in the coming days ahead of the full reopening of the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) on August 15.
But Attorney General and Minister of National Security Michael Peyrefitte contends that the reopening of the airport for tourists, with the strict protocols to be put in place, is not as much of a risk as the current border-jumping situation.
“While the airport that we plan to open on August 15 may seem more of an alarm to certain people, it is not necessarily as bad as the borders, because then with the airport you can control it to a certain extent; you can know who’s coming in, there will be rapid tests done, PCR tests if necessary, and there will be quarantine-like facilities at the airport so you can control it,” the A.G. told reporters on Wednesday.
He contrasted the situation with that of the border-jumpers, who are unknown and can mingle with others unless they are caught directly.
And he pointed out that most of Belize’s cases have been imported: “It started out with us seeing the numbers increase – and it’s still to a large extent by people who import the disease. So a couple of people who came in legitimately, they thought they were clean; they were asymptomatic but they had the disease.”
Peyrefitte pledged to continue ensuring that those who try to return are not allowed to unless cleared of the disease and prevent those not in an emergency situation from going over.