Belize’s land borders to Mexico and Guatemala officially open today, Monday, May 31, 2021, for tourist only, after being closed for 14 months due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Belize Medical and Dental Association has expressed their concerns and are calling for the postponement of the re-opening of the country’s land borders
In a press release, they warn that Belize risks a resurgence in COVID-19 cases that it cannot afford, unless various requests are honored. The release also points out that Belize’s immediate neighbors, Melchor de Mencos, Peten, Guatemala, and Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico, face an upsurge in cases and are in so-called ‘red zones’ where there are at least 100 cases per hundred thousand inhabitants. This represents an immediate threat.
Below are the reasons they are giving as to their recommendation to postpone the opening of Belize’s land borders:
“It is the position of The Belize Medical and Dental Association that the opening of land borders of this country should be postponed for the following reasons:
1. Parts of the countries that neighbor Belize, specifically Melchor de Mencos, Peten and Quintana Roo, are all experiencing an upsurge in COVID 19 cases, and are all classified as being in red zones (more than 100 cases per 100,000 population). As these towns are adjacent to our borders, the threat of an immediate influx of COVID 19 and its variants exists. Unlike the opening of the PGIA, tourists will be spending some time in these areas before coming to Belize.
2. Belize has only vaccinated approximately 25% of its target population, and of this number some only partially. Legislation must be implemented to ensure that our population be vaccinated, especially those who have contact with a large number of persons on a daily basis. For example, persons working in healthcare, retail, teachers, public transportation etc.
3. Other countries with more advanced and larger healthcare systems are going through disastrous waves of COVID 19 at the moment.
4. Belize is at a year and a half into the pandemic, and we have not had any recent capacity building of our healthcare workers in the frontline. Medications (monoclonal antibodies and Tocilizumab) which are accepted regimens worldwide, are not available in country.
5. Instead of preparing for an upsurge by hiring new personnel, some contracts of health staff (doctors/nurses) have not been renewed, and there is a limit on overtime that can be worked. The government is also currently dealing with an industrial action/trade dispute with public sector healthcare workers.
6. The population has dropped its guard with respect to compliance of the preventative public health guidelines. Lately we have been noting the gathering of large crowds.
We are aware of the economic challenge that Belize currently faces, but we reiterate that things can and will get worse with an opening of land boarders at this time, unless the above points are addressed urgently “