Second wave of COVID-19 in Belize likely to come from border jumpers


For more than fifty days, we had gone without reporting any positive cases of SARS-CoV2, better known as the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, in Belize. At that time, the number stood at eighteen but since then, we have had four more positive cases, with two being detected in Belizeans returning to the country as part of various repatriation exercises. The other two cases, cases 20 and 22, were reported in persons illegally crossing our western border with Guatemala.
Throughout this month, there are a number of Belizeans expected to return to the country through these repatriation exercises. Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero says that thus far, less than eighty Belizeans have returned but more than 600 applications have been received. The Ministry of Health has its hands full with swabbing these persons on arrival and again just before the end of the 14-day mandatory quarantine. They are anticipating more arrivals via our land and air borders but Dr. Manzanero says that it is not a concern that we will have a significant spike in the number of positive cases brought into the country by the repatriated Belizeans. The MOH has worked tirelessly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other pertinent bodies to establish rigid protocols and mechanisms to decrease the possibility.
It is a concern, however, that persons illegally crossing the borders will in fact cause that possibility. Cases 20 and 22 are imported cases which were only detected as part of MOH’s new protocol to test anyone found entering the country. This applies to persons entering legally or illegally, as, for now, they present the only external threats of a second wave of COVID-19 in Belize. Because it is easier to test and record person who enter the country legally, the MOH’s heightened surveillance during this time focuses on persons illegally crossing our borders. The public is advised of promptly reporting cases of illegal crossings with the hope of containing any possible importation of COVID-19. Likewise, they continue to encourage everyone to practice and maintain physical distancing and proper hand washing etiquette.