The Belize government has announced that the country's borders will reopen to international travel from October 1, following their closure due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Belize City's Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) will also open from October 1 as part of a five-phase reopening plan which also involves the reopening of government-approved hotels and restaurants under certain hygiene protocols. Those traveling to Belize will be required to provide a negative PCR test for COVID-19 acquired no more than 72 hours prior to arrival and must also download the Belize Health App. Arrivals will also undergo a health screening.
A state of emergency remains in place across Belize until September 11 and the island of Ambergris Caye remains under lockdown. A curfew is in place nationwide (with the exception of Ambergris Caye where structure measures are in place) between 21:00 and 05:00 (local time). Gatherings of over ten people are also prohibited. All businesses are required to close by 20:00. Pubs, bars, and nightclubs are currently closed. The wearing of facemask and social distancing in public is mandatory.
As of Wednesday, September 2, there have been 1050 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded nationwide, with 13 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.
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