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John Briceño calls down Ministry of Health but backs lockdown for Orange Walk

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Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2020. 3:56 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Even before the United Democratic Party (UDP) attacked him yesterday as a “hypocrite” and “quitter,” Leader of the Opposition John Briceno was firing back. 

In the statement issued this week for which he was criticized, he said, “We are faced with a disastrous second wave. Every day of testing has yielded numbers which are staggering for our small nation. With the first week of the spike in cases, our health monitoring system has for all intents and purposes collapsed.” 

And according to him, it doesn’t matter whether he walked away from the co-chairmanship of the National Oversight Committee: “I have every right as a citizen to be able to criticize anything from any department of government including the Ministry of Health and that as the leader of the opposition I think I have not only a legal but a moral responsibility to point out the shortcomings of the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health has had 6 months to be able to put all the things that we have been asking to put in place and it still has not done so.”

Briceño told reporters that the Ministry has so far not delineated how private clinics can help because of the limited resources of the public system, represented by Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital and the regional hospital.

And he pointed out that in San Pedro Town, “… the tests that were done on Friday are not being brought to Belize until today simply because they have no money to pay for fuel, not even to hire a boat, but to pay for fuel to be able to bring that. Do you realize the care center that was set up by the citizens of San Pedro, that they don’t have a budget to pay for electricity and water, that the water has been cut in at least two times, I mean, they also have no quarantine facilities in San Pedro right now, the numbers are raging in San Pedro.”

But as it concerns his consultation with the Prime Minister on locking down Orange Walk district to contain COVID-19 there, he seems to agree: “if we need to lock down Orange Walk district, then we have to lock down because we can’t afford this virus to continue to spread. I think as a nation because we thought we have defeated somehow this virus, people started to not wear the mask, the border jumpers, people coming in on repatriation and so forth obviously then it started to spread so if we have to lock down the Orange Walk district or the entire country then I think we should. It is not a decision to take lightly.”

And his advice to those border jumpers/contrabandists is stark and simple: “They need to stop; they need to stop. They are endangering the lives of not only their immediate family but their communities and the entire district of Orange Walk. And from there it can spread to the rest of the country. So, I appeal to all of them that they need to stop this practice. It is dangerous and many people can lose their lives if they continue to act so recklessly.”

 

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