Prime Minister John Briceño, via a pre-recorded statement, informed the public that stricter public health measures are to be instituted effective midnight on Sunday, September 19th, and will last for the next two weeks as health officials rush to contain the spread of the highly contagious and deadly virus.
Among the various health measures that PM introduced is essentially a nationwide lockdown that will be observed on the next two Sundays which are September 26 and October 3. These two Sundays have been declared “no movement days” whereby persons will only be required to move for medical attention, to purchase medication, groceries, or fuel. Anyone caught out in public on the above dates, and not carrying out any of the activities listed above will be penalized.
Briceño also announced that an earlier curfew is to be imposed countrywide starting from 7:00 p.m to 4:00 a.m, except for highly trafficked tourism destinations such as San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia, and Hopkins, where the 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m curfew will remain in effect. Additionally, effective Monday, September 20th, restaurants countrywide will only be allowed to conduct take-out services, except for the tourism destinations listed above. Churches and casinos will be required to close their doors for the next two weeks, while athletes will not be allowed to engage in any type of contact sports.
According to the Prime Minister, the circumstances under which the country currently finds itself required the government to take drastic measures to avoid a worsening of the situation, which will then require a complete lockdown of the country. Briceño said that alarming data coming out of the Ministry of Health and Wellness is projecting a grim future, which is estimating that there could be a whopping 250 infections per day and a minimum of 10 deaths daily. Additionally, the data is estimating that hospitalization rates will increase to 150 persons daily, over the next two weeks, 50 of whom will require ICU admissions.
PM Briceño commented, “The current situation in Belize is indeed alarming; the last data from the Ministry of Health shows that the number of daily new confirmed positive cases has been increasing dramatically. Yesterday alone there were 200 new confirmed cases, with a positivity rate of 16.4 %. As of yesterday, there were 1,416 active cases in the country. Our hospitals are at a breaking point. At KHMH there are 28 COVID positive patients admitted, 10 of these patients are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and of these seven are unvaccinated. Over the weekend there were 9 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Our medical profession tells us that of the number of persons dying from COVID-19 close to 85% are unvaccinated persons.”
But while the Ministry of Health data is confirming what health experts have been saying from the onset as it pertains to the situation “becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” PM Briceño said that there are some Belizeans that refuse to get vaccinated. He referred to the anti-vaxxers who he says are of the view that Government must not interfere with their “liberty, or freedom of choice.” The PM stressed that while that is their opinion the Government has a mandate to protect children, healthcare professionals, and those citizens who are following the regulations and have gotten their vaccinations. He stressed that the Government will do what is necessary to pass appropriate legislation to protect the vulnerable and ensure the safety of the public at large.
PM Briceño highlighted the herculean job that the healthcare professionals across the country have been doing to manage the sick but are now reaching a breaking point and are now in desperate need of relief to recover from exhaustion and the psychological trauma that they have endured for over a year.
He ended by appealing to the public to do their part in helping to contain the spread of the virus and saving lives by getting vaccinated and adhering to the current public health measures
“My appeal to you is to join in the fight to defeat the spread of the COVID virus. Everyone has a role to play from parents who must protect their children and the elderly to shop keepers and business persons who we are asking to insist on strict hygiene protocols to enter their establishment, from community leaders to pastors all of us must come together now. Remember if you must go out, Watch Your Distance, Wear Your Mask and Wash Your Hands.”