BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 6, 2020– At a virtual press conference held this evening, Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced that because of an alarming surge in COVID-19 infections, the island of San Pedro will be under a complete lockdown for the next 14 days.
Things have been bleak on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, since last Sunday, August 2, when a mysterious case of COVID-19 was discovered.
As reported, this case originally had no known source of infection, as the patient claimed that she had not traveled internationally; however, her entire family had suffered flu-like symptoms prior to the release of test results which confirmed that she was infected with the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, an additional case, which had no link to the initial case, was detected on the island, and this prompted the Ministry of Health to conduct a more extensive tracing process.
By Wednesday, fourteen new cases had been discovered on the island, and two of them were linked to the case that was detected on Tuesday, and they were identified as persons who attended a church service that the patient had attended.
This is being monitored as cluster number two on the island, and samples were being processed up to Thursday.
Also, ten cases out of the previously mentioned fourteen were linked to the initial case that was discovered last Sunday, while one new case has emerged, which is linked to neither of the two other cases, which indicates that there is community transmission of COVID-19 in San Pedro.
Dr. Manzanero, Director of Health Services, and his department are considering the possibility that the link between the active cases in San Pedro and those on the mainland may be a carrier of the virus from Orange Walk.
Throughout the week, multiple entities such as Scotia Bank’s San Pedro branch and BEL’s San Pedro branch have announced that some of their employees appear to be exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
Ultimately, Scotia Bank has closed its offices for sanitization, as it has been confirmed that at least one member of their staff has tested positive for the virus.
According to Dr. Marvin Manzanero, they are also monitoring a cluster that emerged from another church gathering. Between 20 and 30 of the persons who were in attendance at that gathering have been exhibiting symptoms that are characteristic of COVID-19 infections.
Dr. Manzanero has also reported that a number of persons have already left the island since the extensive mapping has begun, and he has implored those who have been exposed to anyone who has been confirmed to have the virus, and is exhibiting symptoms, to contact the Ministry of Health hotline to arrange to be tested. Preliminary data for Thursday suggests that there may be a confirmation of 23 more active cases —nineteen of which are linked to San Pedro.
In light of these findings, The Prime Minister has announced that the town of San Pedro is now under a complete lockdown effective tomorrow, August 7, for the next fourteen days. During the lockdown, a curfew will be in effect from 8:00 p.m. to 4:59 a.m. on the island. A separate children’s curfew will be effective from 5:59 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.; however, they may be out until the later curfew starts if they are in the company of their parents or guardians.
Social gatherings are limited to a ten-person maximum. Construction on the island will cease for the duration of the lockdown.
Emergency permission will be granted to persons whose circumstances make departure from the island absolutely necessary, but the decisions to grant such permission will be considered on a case by case basis by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of National Security. Residents of the island are only allowed to move about for essential purposes; however, cargo will be allowed in and out and essential workers will be permitted to work per the norm.
Banks will be open, along with grocery stores, pharmacies, bakeries, tortilla factories and food manufacturers. Bars, discotheques, and nightclubs are to be closed for the entire duration of the lockdown. Government offices will also be closed.