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Mar 23, 2020

Belize’s Top Tourist Destination Confirms First Case of Deadly COVID-19

When official word came of the first positive case in San Pedro, residents scrambled to get off the island. Hundreds work in the tourism industry, but are not permanent residents of the town. A state of emergency was imposed along with measures of containment, restricting travel to and from the island. Here is News Five’s Hipolito Novelo with a report. 


Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Belize is already feeling the devastating effects of COVID-19 and with its first confirmed case; the country’s economy is expected to suffer greatly.  The first confirmed case was reported in La Isla Bonita, San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye – Belize’s top tourist destination. The government declared a state of emergency on the island- no-one goes in and no one leaves.  After the announcement was made, residents quickly packed up and headed to the water taxi terminals with the intention to arrive on the mainland.

Flights were grounded. Tropic air announced the suspension of flights to and from Ambergris Caye. The water taxi terminals in Belize City were shut down and two Ocean Ferry vessels filled with passengers from Caye Caulker Village were prohibited from docking at the Brown Sugar Water Taxi terminal in Belize City. After two and a half hours, the passengers were allowed to disembark after which they were screened and sprayed with disinfectant.

Outside the Ocean Ferry Terminal, Caye Caulker villagers were up in arms after they are not being allowed to travel to Caye Caulker. Meanwhile in San Pedro Town, panic and fear are real.


Andre Perez

Voice of: Andre Perez, P.U.P. Standard Bearer, Belize Rural South

“There is a sense of fear and panic right now and I cannot lie about that. People have been messaging me, calling me and I keep on repeating the sometime which is to remain calm. I understand that there has been a rush to the boats but those have been cancelled for a while and see what happens from there. Pretty much it does not make sense that we need to be rushing. I want to reach out to say to remain calm.”


But the people of San Pedro Town are asking what will happen next? There is a sense of uncertainty lingering on the island.


Dion Vansen

Voice of: Dion Vansen, Reporter, San Pedro Sun

“There is a sense of uncertainty. Like the persons who has lost his job. A person who lives on the island and pays rent and other bills when he is laid off. There is a sense of uncertainty and also there is some ambience of frustration.”


And that frustration is building. Pictures show a boat of passengers attempting to dock at a pier along the seaside.  They were stopped by police officers. Any vessel that approaches the mainland is stopped by law enforcement officers. San Pedro Town has been locked down.


Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“Quarantine, isolation whichever term you want to use but we are unable to do that if we don’t get the cooperation of the public. I know that after we made the announcement there was a lot of people that wanted to get off the island. It doesn’t mean that everyone there is automatically at risk. It does not mean that you need to come off the island that is not the due process then.”


With employment in the tourism sector already taking a deep dive, a confirmed COVID-19 case on the island is expected to force San Pedranos to change their daily routine, stay home, stay calm and take preventative measures to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. More than a thousand employees who worked in the hotel industry are jobless tonight. That number is expected to increase as the tourism industry continues to disintegrate. Reporting for News Five, Hipolito Novelo.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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