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May 19, 2020

Testing Protocol for Returning Belizeans

Belize now stands as the only country on the American mainland without a new case of COVID-19; that’s because today, Suriname recorded a positive case after forty-four days of no confirmed cases. It is exceptional news coming out of the region, especially for Belize, which has been able to contain the first wave of the virus and is now thirty-six days since it last recorded a positive case. But there are concerns that this can change once Belizeans struck abroad start returning home. To this end, A COVID-19 Controlled Repatriation for Displaced Belizeans Abroad website has been created as the government prepares for citizens, including students, to return home by the end of May, but approval must first be sought from G.O.B by the individuals. For weeks now, students have been stranded, having completed courses, but could not return home since the airport and borders are closed.  Today, on our Open Your Eyes Morning Show, Director of Health Services, Doctor Marvin Manzanero spoke about the testing protocol for returning Belizeans.


Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“That is being coordinated with Immigration [Department] and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We have that plan already set in place in terms of what will happen once they start arriving. We want to do it in an orderly fashion; we don’t want everybody to come at the same time. So the first undertaking is try to get a census; that’s the reason why people were asked to fill a form: how they will be able to come and where they actually live because for now, the only entry points will seem to be the northern and western border, but most come through the northern border station so we are anticipating that we will be having a higher number. One of the plans is to see if we can move people not only to Orange Walk, but also to Belize City which is where we have the bigger hotels where people can stay. We would not be screening people with a test upon arrival.”


Marleni Cuellar, Host, Open Your Eyes

“I was gonna ask that. They won’t be tested when they arrive?”


Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“Not unless you have a sign or symptom. And we have had this discussion in the region to see how we would do it and how other countries are doing it. And it doesn’t really make sense to swab on arrival if you are still going to go to a quarantine facility because we are going to assume that you are negative. When we will swab you is at day fourteen when you are ready to come out because if you are negative, then you are free to go because if I swab you and you are negative, you are still going to go to a quarantine facility. So I would not be doing anything with doing a test upon arrival.”

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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