The Belize government has announced a nationwide state of emergency (SOE) as of Friday, August 7, in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) amid an uptick in cases. The SOE will initially be in place for 14 days, but may well be extended beyond this. A curfew is in place from 22:00 to 05:00 (local time) Sunday to Thursday, and 00:00 to 05:00 Friday to Saturday. Gatherings of more than 25 persons are prohibited, and pubs, bars, nightclubs, discotheques, and rum shops are closed. Ambergris Caye, and Orange Walk, Santa Martha, Shipyard, and Guinea Grass are in complete lockdown and have separate measures in place, outside of the aforementioned SOE. A curfew will be in place from 20:00 to 05:00 everyday, and for children under sixteen the curfew will be from 18:00 to 05:00 everyday unless accompanied by a parent of guardian. Gatherings of more than ten persons are prohibited. During the lockdown, no one is allowed to leave or enter the locations. All non-essential businesses are closed, although restaurants can open for delivery.
The wearing of masks and social distancing remains mandatory at all times. Entry to Belize is prohibited except for Belize nationals and permanent residents, and foreign diplomats accredited to Belize.
As of Saturday, August 8, there have been 114 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded nationwide, with two associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay. To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
Copyright and Disclaimer