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Sep 1, 2020

NEMO Outlines Plans for COVID-19 Management at Shelters

Shelton Defour

As you heard just now, NEMO’s National Coordinator pointed out the challenges of responding to a hurricane during the time of a pandemic. Shelton Defour says that all personnel are in place and ready to respond, but what about infrastructure? Well, firstly, shelters are expected to open when there is a hurricane warning; and once those shelters are open, persons will be placed accordingly. There will be reduced numbers per shelters, as well as facilities to house those who are COVID-19 positive.


On the Phone: Shelton Defour, National Coordinator, NEMO

“So, we have a list of the COVID-19 hurricane shelters and we have the regular shelters.”


Andrea Polanco

“Right – so the COVID-19 shelters will be only for those persons who are confirmed ill, as per the Ministry of health?”


On the Phone: Shelton Defour

“Exactly because we have to shelter people and if you are COVID-19, you are still a Belizean or a person living in Belize so you have to get a shelter. If you a regular, normal person who is asymptomatic you will still need to go to a shelter. So, we have segregated the shelter for regular, non-symptomatic persons arriving for shelter and known COVID-19 persons informed by the Ministry of Health will have a specific shelter that they will have to go to. So, we are just separating people so that contamination and transmission are reduced as possible.”


Andrea Polanco

“How do you social distance within a shelter – what will be done to ensure that people stay within their little spaces and there isn’t that tight mingling of people?”


On the Phone: Shelton Defour

“Basically, we have reduced the shelter space load if you want to call it that. The number of persons that would normally stay in a classroom which is standard size of thirty by thirty used to accommodate or try to accommodate between twenty to thirty persons – so we have reduced that down to ten. Let’s say two family of five and in some cases it might be one family. So, honestly you lose a lot of space by doing so which means then you have to use more shelters and that is where within our plans we have to look to other alternatives. There are buildings available within the municipalities and communities that can be used. We don’t normally put them on the shelter list because the arrangements need to be confirmed but we have that means of identifying and utilizing what is available to save life. Remember our mission is to save life. So far the speed of movement is the issue that we are watching and if people have to be placed in other buildings not nominated or designed particularly in a way as a shelter but it will save your life and we will reduce the transmission of COVID-19 because we are spreading out utilizing more buildings then we will have to do that. This is unprecedented time – I have been in this business for some time and this has never occurred in the Caribbean.  SO, we are doing the best, simple common sense thing that ought to be done to alleviate any potential situation. The elderly should not shelter with regular people. So, there will be a room or classroom that will be utilized for different categories of people. The shelter managers and wardens have a shelter protocol that they will have to follow and go by.”

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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