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February 15, 2021
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Belize to seek COVID-19 vaccine help from Barbados, India

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Posted: Monday, February 15, 2021. 8:31 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister John Briceño confirmed on Friday that Belize has accepted an offer from the Eastern Caribbean state of Barbados for 1,000 COVID-19 Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccines, pending their arrival.

The Barbadians took custody on Sunday of 100,000 vaccines from the Government of India, while neighbours Dominica received 72,000. India has agreed to provide another 350,000 vaccines to the Caribbean region as part of its world-leading efforts.

Prime Minister Briceño has written a formal letter to Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, requesting assistance.

He told reporters of the Bajan offer: “…we need to see how we can get it here. That is the tricky part. There are no direct flights from there and it is not something that you can easily put it in a suitcase and get it here. So I hope we can get it as quickly as we possibly can.”

The P.M. also said he is entertaining visitors from Mexico this week concerning a vaccine offer.

Added to the confirmed COVAX delivery of 100,000; the offer from the African partnership of 81,000, and 20,000 Sputnik V vaccines from Russia through Panama, Belize will potentially have enough vaccines to inoculate about half the population.

Health care workers and elderly persons are first on the list, but next, says Briceño, at the suggestion of his wife, the Special Envoy Rossana Briceño, are teachers: “[She] told me, [if] you want to open schools safely, vaccinate the teachers. I think it is a great idea and I think she will be discussing that with the Ministry of Education. We will push that the teachers get vaccinated early so that we can open schools safely.” Mrs. Briceño is part of the COVID-19 Education Task Force considering the safe re-opening of schools, appointed by Minister Francis Fonseca.

Briceño added that by September, the aim is to have “enough” people vaccinated. The COVAX facility alone will cover 30 percent of the population and the Ministry of Health and Wellness has already begun working on a roll-out plan which is to be tabled in Cabinet.

Belize so far has had more than 12,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 96 percent have recovered and a little more than 300 died between April of 2020 and this month, up to Saturday, February 13’s figures.

 

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