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Sep 1, 2020

San Pedro State of Emergency Lifted

The state of emergency has been lifted for Ambergris Caye; it was to expire this Friday, but the weeks of lockdown has severely impacted life in San Pedro where everything came to a standstill.  The number of COVID-19 cases ballooned in July, but those numbers have been brought under control.  So within hours of the lifting of the S.O.E., Tropical Storm Nana began posing a real threat to the residents.  Some began to leave the island for the mainland once they were cleared to do so. Here is News Five’s Duane Moody with a report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A State of Emergency for the island of Ambergris Caye was declared back on August seventh after community spread of the novel coronavirus was detected. In the first instance, the lockdown was for a fortnight, but as the number of positive cases ballooned and the island became the epicentre of the pandemic in Belize, the state of emergency was extended for an additional fourteen days. Statutory Instrument Number 121 of 2020 was to expire on September fourth.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: August 28th, 2020]

“I would want to believe that Ambergris Caye is plateauing and I certainly expect that we may be able to lift the quarantine even before it expires and remember that it‘s coming to an end in any event.”

 

…as was foreseen, at midnight on Monday, three days prior to its expiration, the state of emergency for the island of Ambergris Caye was lifted.  The S.O.E. was declared as a containment measure for the virus and no one was allowed to travel to or leave the island. There were also complaints of person being trapped on the island due to the lockdown. But with the restrictions lifted, are residents now able to freely leave the island? Not so fast says Doctor Javier Canul of the Doctor Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II.

 

Javier Canul

Dr. Javier Canul, San Pedro Polyclinic II

“We have a team out here. We will be making sure that people that are sick, having fever or respiratory symptoms; we are making sure that people that are under quarantine or are positive or people who are awaiting results; that none of those people get on the boat. So that’s the screening process that we are going through.  We cannot provide patients private information to anybody; that is against ethics, but we are here to ensure that we cross check the list to make sure that none of these people leave.  When they get here, the process at the moment is to get their temperature checked before they purchase their ticket. And then once the manifest is made, then we go through the manifest and decide if everybody can go or not.”

 

A number of persons were allowed to board water taxis and depart the island en route to Belize City, majority are evacuating as Tropical Storm Nana makes its way to Belize. But even as the S.O.E. has been lifted, movement on the island is still minimal. The Coastal Executive Commander, Superintendent Christopher Noble advises residents maintain social distance and stay safe.

 

Christopher Noble

Supt. Christopher Noble, Commander, Coastal Executive Unit

“We are asking, you keep sanitizing, you keep trying to be safe and wear your masks; make sure you are within distance of everybody else. We know that this thing is like a ghost. It is out there and it is just real. This is our new normal and we have to get use to it.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


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