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Nov 28, 2019

BAHA Conducts TR4 Prevention Exercise at Entry Points

Back in August we reported about the alert in the banana industry in the south. The Belize Agricultural Health Authority had announced the detection of suspected Fusarium Wilt of bananas in Colombia. It’s a devastating disease that affects bananas and plantains and can potentially wipe out the industry.  If infected, banana plants die and the disease spreads quickly within the farms.  The good news is that the disease still hasn’t been detected in Belize but its presence in the Americas is cause for regional concern.  Since then, BAHA, the Ministry of Agriculture and partner organizations have been working to sensitize the public and test out their containment measures through surveillance and bio-security measures. Since the start of this week, they have been carrying out exercises and started at the P.G.I.A. before expanding to the south at the Big Creek Port.  Today, we spoke with Margarito Garcia of BAHA, who explains the process at the two sites.


Margarito Garcia

Margarito Garcia, Technical Director (Quarantine), BAHA

“The first phase is to test the effectiveness of the systems that we have at the airport. Our system, as the BAHA, whereby we work with the agencies to see if through the processes that we have, to see if the persons coming with the plant or plant products, animals and animal products , as well, would be detected along  the process from immigration through to customs and BAHA. The other thing that we had in place is the treatment mats that we have at the entrance of the airports where we put the disinfectant intercept that is one of the most effective disinfectants that can neutralize or kill funguses and virus; so this disinfectant is on the mats where passengers coming in would need to step on to disinfect their shoes, as we have explained earlier, soil can bring in the fungus or viruses and other pathogens that may cause disease. That is working very well; we see everybody cooperating with us. Where I think we need to strengthen is the cooperation with the authorities at the airport because this is very important that if the preventative area, which is the first line of defense at the airport or other points of entry. If we fail then a pathogen or pest or disease can easily come in. With the Big creek Group of Companies, they have set up a disinfection system, based on our advice, using the same disinfectant that we are using. All crew members coming from cargo ships must go through disinfection when they are leaving the ship and the compound. They are enforcing that everyone who goes into the Port compound has to undergo disinfection of their shoes in and out. So, all vehicles moving out as well of the Big Creek Port are sprayed thoroughly with the same disinfectant to prevent any movement or cross contamination in the event that we have this TR4.”

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