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Aug 7, 2020

Where Are the Enhanced Packages for Frontline Workers?

Dean Barrow

Director of Health Services, Doctor Marvin Manzanero announced today that several frontline workers have been infected with COVID-19. Three police officers, two nurses and three doctors are confirmed to have been affected by the deadly coronavirus. When the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Belize months ago, Minister of Finance and Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, promised that frontline workers would be assisted through enhanced packages for putting their lives at risk to secure the health of the public. That was many months today and during the Prime Minister’s press conference on Thursday, Barrow was asked for assurances that his promise will be kept.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Yes I certainly said that would have been the way to go and I repeat that I still maintain that position. The question is to find the funds to do that. When I made that commitment it was right at the start when we were expecting all sorts of funding. All the lines that we were expecting are still very much there. Either in some cases already activated and drawn down on but unfortunately in the case of the ten million dollars from the IDB not yet drawn down on but it is there. I was told recently and perhaps there was a reiteration yesterday and I may have spoken about it that the preparation of the submission to the IDB is completed. That submission may have go yesterday if it didn’t go yesterday it will certainly go today or tomorrow. So there clearly in the meantime is the effort on the part of the ministry to work out with the nurses and doctors exactly what the enhancements to their packages will look like. The devil is already in the details. Again I repeat that the minister said yesterday that a meeting that was held recently was satisfactory.”


Pablo Marin, Minister of Health

“When out nurses doctors or healthcare providers are attending to the flu clinics or to patients that can have the symptoms. We have said that we are going to put a housing which was done in the beginning. Right now we have to activate that same scenario for all for them that we do believe are attending these COVID patients so that they won’t take the virus to their house and that was the concern that they had. The other thing that we had the meeting on were certain things like transportation and because the budget has went down a little for the Ministry of Health. We know that transportation is something that is not put in place; we don’t have to do that so we compromise with the nurses and doctors that they will give a little stipend. We will use the vehicle, for us to be able to buy the diesel or the gasoline for us to put in the vehicle. The other concern for them was food when they are working. They did come with a something that we were looking at and they were saying that at midday, or whenever we are working we just go attend the patients grab something to eat fifteen minutes and go back again to work. We decided that we will continue to give the food for the healthcare providers.”

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