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Oct 9, 2020

Increasing Number of Law Enforcement Officers Test Positive for COVID-19

The number of COVID infections will soon hit two thousand four hundred cases and it continues to spike threatening to overwhelm health facilities. The virus has spread behind prison walls and is multiplying among law enforcement. The police has been hit hard, cases increase in the B.D.F. and the force is recording its first death and now the virus is extending to the ranks of the Belize Coast Guard. Here is News Five’s Duane Moody with a report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

An increasing number of law enforcement officers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The statistics to date show that there are currently sixty-five positive cases within the B.D.F.; one hundred and forty-two persons are either quarantined or in self-isolation at home. Of those identified cases, more than half, thirty-nine to be exact, are from Eyles Camp in Orange Walk.

 

Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“From that specific camp gave us twenty-six cases; that’s the data we have. If it is sixty-five, I believe that that number is referring to everybody who has been positive from when we started having the outbreak in San Pedro until now.”

 

The Ministry of Health is also monitoring possible infections at the Belize Coast Guard. A female cadet has tested positive for COVID-19; she became symptomatic after a visit home and was later swabbed and identified as a positive patient. Acting Commandant, Lieutenant Greg Soberanis says that there are several others who are displaying signs and symptoms of the virus.

 

On the Phone: Lt. Greg Soberanis, Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“We do have a case and then we are looking closely at some others who are displaying certain signs and symptoms so we’ve asked health to swab those individuals as well just to make sure that it is not COVID-19 and if it is, then we follow the protocol. We are a part of that frontline task force and by virtue of our mandate, our people would definitely be at risk because of our maritime border control, maritime border mandate. We have ensured that we have implemented measures to safeguard our personnel afloat, meaning while they are out at sea, as well as those who work ashore duties, meaning here at the coastguard facilities.”

 

Law-enforcement officers are also on the frontline of the fight against the deadly virus. On a daily basis, they are out on the streets, or manning illegal entry points for border jumpers and contrabandistas. And while they are carrying out a mandate, they are often at risk of being exposed. Since the outbreak, eighty-eight police officers have tested positive for COVID-19; while some have recovered, majority, sixty-one to be exact, are active cases.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police [File: October 8th, 2020]

“It is really sad for us that we currently have a number of sixty-one police officers who are infected with the COVID-19 virus.  Totally, since the start of the COVID-19 virus, we have had a total of eighty-eight infected officers, some of whom have recovered and we have sixty-one active cases.  Those active cases are currently in isolation and we also have about forty or so police officers who are in quarantine pending results.  So the COVID-19 pandemic has truly hit us hard, but despite that we continue to do our utmost best with a view to ensure that we keep our nation as safe as we can.”

 

Director of Health Services, Doctor Marvin Manzanero says that the Ministry of Health is concerned about the cases within the law-enforcement agencies.

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“Once you have a facility that has so many people housed together, what you would routinely do is instead of sending them home; you would want to keep them all in a closed, controlled environment because if you don’t do that then you may have a potential spread. So when those situations, either the police, coast guard, B.D.F. and interacting, then those are potential super spreaders if you allow them to go back home.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


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