Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2022. 2:44 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Corozal Free Zone (CFZ) is today operating at nearly 100% with all stores, except one of the 200, open for business, according to CEO Neri Ramirez. This follows the report of 173 COVID-19 positive cases on Wednesday out of 1,002 persons who were tested.
“I’m not closing the entire Corozal Free Zone, but if there is a store that has five employees and five of them are positive, that specific store will be closed for seven days,” said Ramirez in an exclusive interview with Breaking Belize News.
And that’s the situation. One store is closed.
Though the number is high, Ramirez said the percentage who tested positive at the CFZ was only 17 % compared to the 25% at the national level for Wednesday.
So, today all the 173 workers who tested positive on Wednesday are in isolation for seven days at their homes.
“After seven days they will have to come back with a negative PCR test first. Secondly, they have to sanitize the store, and then they will get a certificate that they can open again. But I cannot close 200 stores if only one store is positive,” Ramirez added.
In the case of stores having one or two persons positive, Ramirez said those workers have to be isolated and the stores will continue operating with the remaining staff.
Ramirez said the 1,002 were all tested on Wednesday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. But there are about 500 more persons at the Corozal Free Zone, and they will be tested on Friday.
“We are preparing a second testing campaign tomorrow from 9:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon so that the remaining population at the Corozal Free Zone get tested,” Ramirez said. “By the end of the day tomorrow we will have final results and we will know exactly how we stand with the entire population at the Corozal Free Zone. That includes free zone management, investors, and employees.”
Ramirez said that though most of the population at the CFZ are from Corozal and Orange Walk, there are a number of investors who are Mexicans. They are being tested as well, he noted.
Ramirez pointed out that the CFZ has COVID-19 protocols in place, including regular testing, that have maintained the number of cases rather low since the onset of the pandemic. The highest number of positive cases before Wednesday’s was 46 in 2021, he said.
“We have 17 COVID marshals on the ground, assigned by blocks, and they visit each store twice a day to make sure everybody is following protocols,” he said.
Moreover, Ramirez explained that the entire CFZ population is vaccinated.
“We have 100% vaccination in the Corozal Free Zone. All of them have been fully vaccinated and over 600 have received a booster.”
Ramirez said that all persons who work at the Corozal Free Zone will have to abide by the measures put in place.
“After tomorrow (Friday), every single employee or investor will have to pass in through the gate with their results. Secondly, they will schedule a second test, I think the following week. I cannot say what date because I have to get confirmation from the Ministry of Health. This is a first round. We will do a second round and then a third round,” Ramirez said.
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