BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Sept. 16, 2021– Last night, Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño addressed the nation to announce new restrictions that are being put in place in an attempt to lower the intensity of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic that is currently battering the country. During his remarks, he stated that if “serious measures” are not taken, the daily infection rate in the country could rise to 250 cases and the number of hospitalized persons could increase to as many as 150.
Those numbers would bring our healthcare system to its knees, and yet, the Prime Minister has nonetheless made special provisions for tourism hotspots to remain under the currently less strict regulations.
Many in the public have taken issue with this, including area representative for the Albert Division, Hon. Tracy Panton, who this morning, in a post on her Facebook page, questioned the Prime Minister’s decision.
“I understand the sector’s absolute importance to our national economy, but there is NO way our own citizens can be treated as second-class citizens in our own country. It is simply NOT right,” Hon. Panton stated in her Facebook post.
Hon. Panton questioned the logic underlying the Prime Minister’s decision, saying that the behaviors of many foreigners are, in essence, no different from those of a number of Belizeans who insist on not complying with the regulations in place.
In reference to the closure of churches, which is one of the new measures that are to be put in place for a two-week period, Hon. Panton said, “Drastic times call for drastic measures. Instead of closing down our places of worship, maybe we should be closing down our land borders and our seaports as a start.”
As is common knowledge, COVID-19 is transmitted through human interaction and carried across borders by travelers. At this time, both our land borders (including the PGIA) and seaports are opened — with all those who enter the country through these borders being required to undergo Covid-19 testing at their own expense.
“Belize has been listed as a Level 4 destination, which indicates we are one of those countries that has the highest risk of exposure. Yesterday we see the installing of our first field hospital in Belmopan. Dr Sosa, the KHMH Administrator, is calling for refrigerator trucks where dead bodies can be stored as the morgue has no more space to accommodate those who have died from COVID. Our Health Care System is bursting at the seams,” Hon. Panton stated in her post.
She called on the Prime Minister to make the hard decisions now to avert further crisis in the nation.
“I implore you, Mr. Prime Minister, if we are going to make the hard decisions, let us make the hard decisions. This band-aid proposal will not solve the current situation. Let the Bondholders wait. Convene that National COVID Oversight Committee. Belizeans 1st, Mr. Prime Minister. We are a nation in CRISIS. No half-stepping, Sir.” Hon. Panton said.