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Corozal Free Zone stepping up safety measures after 215 positive cases of COVID-19 were detected this week

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Posted: Saturday, January 15, 2022. 11:15 am CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias:

The Corozal Free Zone is stepping up safety measures after 215 positive cases of COVID-19 were detected this week.

“We still have our enforcement officers on the ground,” Minister of Enterprise Jose Abelardo Mai told Breaking Belize News (BBN). “Everybody has to wear a mask. The sanitary practices are now even better enforced. Everybody has to be sanitized before they enter the Free Zone.”

“So, we have increased our monitoring and surveillance.”

“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,” said Chief Executive Officer Neri Ramirez in an exclusive interview with BBN.

Despite the positive cases the CFZ continues operating.

“We have three stores closed out of the 200, so we are operating at 98.5%,” said Chief Executive Officer Neri Ramirez told BBN.

One store had been closed on Wednesday after the first round of testing and two more were closed on Friday after nearly 300 persons more were tested. 173 persons out of 1,002 tested positive on Wednesday and 42 out of 298 on Friday.

In stepping up the safety measures, Ramirez said that on Saturday, every single employee and investor going to the Zone to work must present their results to the security officers at the gate.

That stems from the 200 or so who did not get tested at the CFZ on Friday but opted to do it elsewhere. In total, 215 positive COVID-19 cases were detected from the 1,298 persons tested at the CFZ on Wednesday and Friday. That represents a positivity rate of 16.56%.

“Once the results are negative, they will be allowed to come into the Corozal Free Zone,” Ramirez said.

Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days at the Zone, so all workers are normally there on weekends. In this case, everyone who has tested negative is expected to show up to work said Ramirez who is on site as he tested negative. He sent BBN a copy of his negative certificate to prove it.

“To make sure that we get every single person that works in the Corozal Free Zone tested, that is the reason we are going to implement strict orders at the entrance. If they don’t have any results they will not be allowed and they will be asked to take a test in Corozal, either a private clinic or any other location before they can enter the Corozal Free Zone.”

The stores that have been closed will be allowed to reopen once the workers are no longer infected.

“They cannot continue operating the stores because the majority were positive, so the stores were ordered to close. They will open until they present PCR tests that are negative, and they sanitize the stores,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said that all the persons who were positive today were symptomatic and the great majority on Wednesday were also asymptomatic.

Apart from testing everyone who operates or works in the zone, Ramirez, who reiterated that everyone working in the CFZ is fully vaccinated, the CFZ is also ensuring all workers are given a booster shot against COVID-19. So far, 781 persons, which represents more than 50% of all workers, have been administered boosters.

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