Caye Cís Covid Scenario
While we were on Caye Caulker, we also spoke with the Chair of the Village Council about how this island is coping with the pandemic.
Last year, they were chosen as the BTB's #1 Tourism Destination. As a community that also depends heavily on tourism as its main income earner, Caye Caulker is also experiencing the same financial ruin that other top destinations around the country are faced with.
The Chairlady told us that the islanders are doing their best to look after their needs in this time of crisis:
Seleny Villanueva-Pott - Chair, Caye Caulker Village Council
"Some of the fishermen have said outright, you know, this is not the first time we've seen this. Before tourism, it was strictly fishing, and we made it. They said they can resort to fishing. It's just a phase we have to re-adjust to, [like] in the old days. But, I'm sure we'll get through it."
"What is the percentage of economic activity that's purely focused on tourism on Caye Caulker?"
"I'd say about 90. That is what fuels Caye Caulker's economy. So, we're really feeling this right now."
"Most of the restaurants are now closed down. A lot of the hotels have shut down. Whatever support we've needed locally, we've gotten locally, and I must thank the Caye Caulker business community for their tremendous support. We've got housing for Coast Guards from the business community. We've gotten equipment needed from the business community. One business member actually donated all 10 oxygen tanks to us. Our isolation area has been given to us free of charge. We retrofitted the building. We've got a new AC for the building. So, we are working locally, and whatever GOB comes with will be additional. But we've learned to take care of ourselves."
"I must extend deep gratitude to the small health team that we have here on the island. I think they've done a tremendous job with that. It's just for us to fine-tune it. Since the Ministry of Health is here, we're going to fine-tune it today. And we move from there, hoping for the best, hoping that we don't have to use it, but preparing for the worst."
Health Inspectors on Caye Caulker
The residents of Caye Caulker are hoping that they won't have to be concerned with any COVID-19 cases being discovered in the island village. But, as you've heard, they have taken precautions for that worst-case scenario, and a team of medical professionals from the Central Health Region traveled there yesterday to inspect their quarantine and isolation facilities.
We got a chance to speak with the team leader about the vigilance that the Ministry of Health is maintaining on the island:
Melinda Guerra - Regional Manager, Central Health Region
"We are here today as a team. As you can see, a number of us are here. We just came to make sure that we have our plan in place here at the Caye Caulker Health Center, and for the community. Today, we have an infection control nurse. She's going to be doing the PPE training for medical personnel. We are also going to meeting with the chairlady to make ensure that we have our isolation area, and quarantine area prepared, in the event that we have any positive COVID case, or if we have any suspected case that we need to isolate."
"How prepared is Caye Caulker for something like this? We know that it's only a health center that's here."
"I must say that when it comes to primary health care, we are fully prepared. We have carried out extensive health education when it comes to prevention measures that should be taken, that every individual should take. We also have ensured that we have the needed materials and supplies in the event that we have any positive cases. The main thing that we have to make sure [of] is that the Caye Caulker community remains COVID-19 negative, that we have no case here on the island. I think that's our main objective, but in the event that we have any positive case, I think that we are going to be prepared with the same response that we're having in San Pedro."
Part of yesterday's inspection included training for the Caye Caulker medical staff about using personal protective equipment and the best practices for keeping themselves safe on the job from COVID-19.