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Mar 30, 2020

Was Proper Screening Being Done at the P.G.I.A.?

Bryton Codd returned home from Canada on March seventeenth; at the time, that country had seventeen confirmed cases of COVID-19 and schools were closing as a form of containment.  On arrival, however, Codd says, he had concerns on the screening process he observed at the Philip Goldson International Airport and the risky behaviour of persons not respecting preventative protocols put in place.


On the Phone: Bryton Codd, Belizean Student in Isolation

“On the fifteenth of March we got from our school a state of emergency response and we then closed school immediately for the remainder of the semester and we had to be out in two days. And so I immediately had to book flight. At that point in time, our province had probably three presumptive cases—nothing was confirmed as yet—and I think in Toronto already had about seventeen cases. So that was probably the risk in my travel. There was a straight flight from Toronto to Belize. I was a bit appalled and dismayed at the way things were being done at the P.G.I.A. simply because I felt that there would have been more stringent precautionary measures being implemented at the airport as well as more selective being reiterated upon the arrival of students and anyone who was coming from outside of Belize.  So when we get off the plane, we were just stopped by an immigration officer, I believe, who took our customs and immigration forms and asked where we were coming from and if we were students. That’s the extent of the screening process. We did not get tested for any kind of symptoms; we did not get any kind of directives as to what measures we should take in terms of self-isolation; I didn’t need it because the government back in Canada had already issued self-isolation protocols to students so that’s the reason why when I came home, I knew that it would be my responsibility to stay away from community to isolate for another fourteen days. I could see that the social distancing measures were not being implemented at the airport because we had a lot of students who were in clusters in the immigration line; there was not the three feet protocols being implemented. And even when we were standing outside, waiting for our parents to come and get us, I saw students hugging their parents. I said but that is not social distancing; you are making direct contact with people. And so I felt that the information could have been disseminated a bit more at port of entry.”

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