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Oct 21, 2014

Belize Ports Authority on Board With Ebola Protocols

Merlene Bailey-Martinez

The Ebola scare last Thursday fizzled after a Texan lab technician traveling on a Carnival cruise ship that called to port in Belize was declared free of the deadly virus. But the scare has kicked health officials and relevant authorities into overdrive. The Belize Ports Authority is one of several government agencies on the frontline of the cruise tourism industry.  While plans were underway to convene a multi-agency meeting well before the Ebola scare last Thursday, the B.P.A. is fully onboard with new protocols being implemented in the wake of that alarm.  On Monday, the Ministry of Health met with the National Emergency Management Organization, as well as other relevant government departments, to discuss a comprehensive approach to dealing with an outbreak of Ebola should it wash up on our shores.  According to Ports Commissioner, Merlene Bailey-Martinez, they are very much a part of the national response mechanism.


Merlene Bailey-Martinez, Ports Commissioner

“Some months ago, the Ministry of Health had called a meeting together of the stakeholders about the international health regulations and the Port Authority was a part of that.  Actually, we had, there was in motion implementing the International Health Regulations to deal specifically with these types of issues.  Unfortunately, this Ebola matter came up before, you know, things progressed a little bit more.  But specifically dealing with Ebola we are a part of the boarding party that goes aboard a vessel when it comes into our shores.  So we have been also invited by the Ministry of Health to participate in the discussions with the Ebola response.  My human resources manager attended a meeting yesterday in Belmopan to deal with our response.  We’re also part of the boarding party to deal with the new protocols with boarding vessels and giving clearance and things like that.  So the Port Authority boarding officer is very much a part of that first response team that goes out to a vessel when it’s coming out to our waters, coming into our waters.”

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