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Dec 20, 2021

COVID-19 Task Force: Too Soon to Open Borders

Earlier today, we spoke with Doctor Melissa Diaz-Musa, a member of the COVID Medical Response Committee. We got her comments on the reopening of land borders on January first. It is expected that a lot of Belizeans will flock to the northern and western borders to head to Chetumal and Melchor. According to Tourism Minister Anthony Mahler, persons heading across the border for day trips won’t have to test on re-entry into the country, but those who go for longer stays will. But with an incubation period of three to five days, there is concern among health professionals. Doctor Diaz-Musa says that their recommendation remains that borders should not be opened – at least not at this time.


Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, Deputy Regional Health Manager, Central Health Region

“Our recommendation remains to hold on the opening of the land borders. We feel that emphasis should be placed at this point on the schools, opening the schools safely for a few months and monitoring the situation. But if the land borders are opened as well, we have recommendations in place that will help us to ensure that we control the land borders as best as possible, similar to what we are doing with P.G.I.A.”


Melissa Diaz-Musa

Duane Moody

“If you are only going for twenty-four hours you won’t have to test when you come back unless you are day three days. I see some gaps in my mind because in twenty-four hours you can contract the virus and then come back into the country. Three days later, you end up positive, but you’ve already exposed others to it. The concerns there.”


Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa

“When we look at omicron and this is the variant that we are most concerned about for 2022; at this point, we still have delta as the prominent variant in country. But if you look at omicron and how it is much more transmissible than even delta and we saw the burden that delta had caused our health system, it is pretty early still because there’s a lot that’s not really well known about omicron. And for that reason it probably would be best for us to delay the opening of the border until we can see what’s happening in other countries with omicron. A lot of the recommendations though, if we do open, a lot of the recommendations we are still in discussion at this point. But in addition to the recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, we also need to ensure; this is where personal responsibility comes in. Many times, if we travel, so even now at this point – although the regulations aren’t there – that if we travel and come in from the U.S., let’s say, and we land in Belize and we have a negative test, there is no mandatory quarantine at this point. But the recommendation would be if you do travel to another country, you can set some days if you are at work so that if I come in today, I am not back at work tomorrow. Let me wait three days and see what develops in the next three to four days so I can take an additional three days leave and I protect my colleagues as well, I isolate and I protect my family members as well. If you are just travelling for a day, obviously if we test you on return, you won’t have the viral load to pick up a positive test as yet because we’ve got to keep in mind the incubation period of this virus. So it is important that if it opens, we’ve got to have strict regulations in place.”

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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