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#496941 - 10/17/14 06:09 PM Visa ban for travelers from West Africa  
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In a Government Press Conference this morning, Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse announced over the radio that Belize has stopped issuing visas to persons of West African countries where the Ebola virus is currently a health problem.

These include Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Citizens from these countries, under the new Immigration protocol which is effective immediately, are prohibited from travelling to Belize.

Minister Hulse also announced that no cruise ship passenger who has been to Ebola affected areas of West Africa in the last 30 days will be allowed to disembark in Belize.

Minister Hulse says that immediately the manifest of cruise ships will be closely vetted to ensure that this new measure is strictly adhered to.

#496965 - 10/18/14 11:01 AM Re: Visa ban for travelers from West Africa [Re: Marty]  
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Immigration Ban Enacted

From what we have been able to find out - when the passports were handed back over to the Coast Guard, only the shipping agent employee - and not the police or immigration handled them. The Coast Guard officers were reportedly wearing gloves. Again, all precautionary, because no one on the Cruise Ship was presenting symptoms of Ebola infection. A release from Carnival Cruise Line says the female is deemed by CDC to be very low risk. She and her partner remain in isolation on board the ship and is quote, "not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew." The release adds, quote, "at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board.

Still, we note press reports that today that the ship did not get clearance to dock in Cozumel, Mexico - so it is heading back to Galveston, Texas - where it is scheduled to arrive on Sunday.

And so while this event should be behind Belize - what's next for the Immigration and Health Authorities as Ebola anxiety is higher than ever?

Well, first of all, the Department of Immigration is enacting a ban on persons coming from certain Ebola hot zones. Immigration Minister Hulse outlined the plan today:..

Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration
"We have immediately issued a stop on the issuance of visas to persons coming from the West Africa area whom we consider high risk; and those countries will be Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and any other country that the ministry thinks has now been affected. Nigeria is a special case because though it's a Commonwealth country it requires visas and even though they have declared that they are free we consider the persons travelling from Nigeria a risk. Sierra Leone on the other hand does not require any visas to come into Belize, so we will issue a travel ban on persons coming from Sierra Leone. Our embassies are being advised immediately. The airlines will be advised of this decision forthwith. In addition, persons whatever nationality who have visited that area of West Africa within the last 30 days will not be allowed to land in Belize and the airlines will be advised accordingly."

Presently, the greatest emphasis is being put on the Immigration response at the Phillip Goldson International and the Cruise ships - since the USA has reported cases of infection - but would not be classified as an Ebola hot zone.

Hulse explained what will pertain for the cruise ships:..

Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration
"Persons who would travel beyond the tourism village would be the ones who would present themselves to immigration for the necessary clearance to land. Persons who would remain within the vicinity of the tourism village were only thick-off on the manifest. Effectively immediately that protocol has changed; every single person who will disembarked from cruise ship, the passport of such person will be reviewed by immigration to ensure that no persons has been in the high risk area of West Africa within the last 30 days. All immigration officers effective immediately will be outfitted with the necessary or some protective gear meaning gloves and masks to help to protect our people."

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