By Aaron Humes: Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, is on borrowed time.
The face of Belize’s COVID-19 fight is being pressured to submit to the Minister of National Security and Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte the names of all COVID-19 patients, including those in self-isolation and mandatory quarantine, or potentially face criminal charges.
The government dispelled rumors last week that he was on the verge of resigning, and contrary to hopes that the National Oversight Committee would direct Peyrefitte to revise the Statutory Instrument (S.I.) , no such directive has emerged.
When pressed earlier this week on what will happen if the status quo remains, Doctor Manzanero said that he will wait and see.
But on Wednesday, Peyrefitte said he is enjoined to follow the law while sidestepping our question of whether he is now in breach: “Well, I wouldn’t violate anybody’s privacy, now would I? Let’s just say yes, he is required to provide those names to me under the law of the S.I…The law doesn’t require for me to request it; the law says that he shall provide it.”
Peyrefitte added that outside of confidentiality issues, Dr. Manzanero’s political boss, Minister of Health Pablo Marin agreed to the new legislation: “There is no sticking point, the S.I. is the S.I. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and the law states very clearly that in a pandemic the Minister of Health has the right to sign S.I.’s for the betterment of the country to tackle the pandemic. Remember, it is his Minister who signed the S.I. saying that he should give it to the Minister of National Security…. The law says that under the current act, the Minister of Health has the right to pass any law that he deems fit, is necessary to tackle any pandemic that we may be faced with.”