On Thursday, July 9, concern swept through the country, particularly in the north, where three minors became the newest confirmed cases of COVID-19. All minors are members of the same family, who had recently been caught in the act of crossing the border illegally into Mexico, and they have been quarantined in Orange Walk.
It was reported that the family made its way into Belize and settled in Blue Creek Village in the Orange Walk District before the authorities were able to apprehend them. During that time, they are said to have come in contact with several other family members before going into mandatory quarantine in Orange Walk Town.
At the time when that initial report was provided by the Office of the Director of Health Services, the number of active confirmed cases was at eleven, seven of which were located in Orange Walk – two from the repatriation groups and five through illegal border crossings.
Within a matter of hours, however, mapping protocol being exercised by the Department of Health Services exposed an additional four confirmed cases related to the previously identified three.
All seven cases are said to be members of the same family, and the number of active cases spiked from eleven to fifteen, nine of which are located in the Orange Walk District, with further potential cases being monitored in the Blue Creek Village.
Given the increased potential of communal spread in the north, the Governor General has approved Statutory Instrument (SI) 100 of 2020, which has placed the Blue Creek and San Felipe Villages under a State of Emergency (SOE), effective Friday, July 10.
As highlighted in SI 100, a curfew has been imposed in the villages from 8:00 p.m. to 4:59 a.m.; minors are to remain indoors from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily. Additionally, no person is allowed to enter or leave Blue Creek Village or San Felipe Village during the SOE.
The size of public gatherings that are permitted in these areas has been reduced to ten persons at any given time, and those in groups of ten must adhere to the 6-foot social distancing protocols.
Those considered essential workers are exempt from the curfew, where necessary; however, anyone else who is caught violating these regulations will face a $5,000 fine or up to two years imprisonment.
On Monday, certain media houses were claiming that the entire district of Orange Walk was subject to an impending lockdown, but GOB health authorities quickly responded with a press release denying those rumors.
As at Thursday, July 9, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country had climbed to 33. The number of deaths remains at 2.