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Specials and Events
Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5, LOVETV, PGTV, Reef TV, KREM, and CTV 3. Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, Belize Now, Talk Ah Di Town, and other specials.
The San Pedro Sun
Amendment to State of Emergency: Curfew for minors, Bill-paying Fridays and medical staff restrictions
A set of changes regarding the regulations in the current state of emergency are expected to become law today, Friday, April 17th, as previously stated by the Attorney General and Minister of National Security, Honourable Michael Peyrefitte. According to Peyrefitte, who appeared on a live talk online Wednesday, April 15th, one of the new regulations will prohibit children 16 years and younger to be on the streets after 4PM, as of Friday April 17th. The amendment will also see utility companies opening their doors on Fridays for payment of bills, and medical staff are now being ordered to work at one facility only.
Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow Updates Nation on COVID-19 Response
My Fellow Belizeans, I need periodically to bring you up to date on our war against COVID-19, and it is for that purpose that I address you now. There are, of course, two basic fronts to our campaign: the medical and the socioeconomic.
Regarding the medical, I am certain that we are making every effort to do the right thing. The nationwide lockdown is one sure way of helping to contain the spread of the virus. Accordingly, that lockdown will be made to run at least its 14-day course.
The core medical team, tirelessly led by Dr. Marvin Manzanero, is receiving more expert support than ever. Several additional medical personnel have joined the National Task Force and have been given various critical assignments. Gaps and omissions are being addressed in as inclusive a manner as possible, in which connection the preliminary understanding reached with the KHMHA Union is key.
Republic of China (Taiwan) Donates Face Masks to the Ministry of Health
In a brief ceremony on April 16th, the Minister of Health Hon. Pablo Marin received, on behalf of the Government of Belize, 60,000 face masks from the Government of the Republic China (Taiwan) through its Ambassador to Belize H.E. Remus Li-Kou Chen.
Various Belizean Sources
Smoke in Belmopan
Residents in certain areas of Belmopan have been complaining for days about the burning of trash and other materials. They say the smoke created is harmful to their health. According to this image from The GIZ-Selva Maya Biodiversity Monitoring Project, those residents are right and the air quality is at a record, and dangerous low. They are calling on the Department of the Environment to look into this as a matter of priority.
One World: Together At Home, Global broadcast to fight COVID-19
Today, Saturday, 18 APRIL 2020
One World: Together At Home is a historic, global broadcast to support the fight against COVID-19.
Watch on the World Health Organization (WHO) FB page at noon BZ time.
MSNBC (Channel 40 on Coral Cable) will be broadcasting the event at 6pm BZ time.
For more information about the initiative and event, visit the Global Citizen page.
Making Masks: From the Western Regional Hospital:
“As we continue to prepare for the Covid19 pandemic the Community Health Workers of the Belmopan catchment area have been tasked to mass produce face mask for the health workers of the entire Ministry of Health. These will be distributed to all health facilities in the country. Kudos to these ladies.”
Emergency Contraceptive Services
In an effort to continue our support of sexual and reproductive health services, BFLA has partnered with key persons throughout the country, to provide condoms and emergency contraceptives to those in need. Kindly reach out to the contact person in your district for more information.
Emergency Powers Regulations 2020
Until we get it in writing, this is an unofficial copy of the Emergency Powers Regulations 2020. This is Statutory Instrument No. 46, amended with SI-47, SI-52, and SI-54.
An overview of Archival Projects and Preservation Efforts at ISCR-NICH Belize
"An overview of Archival Projects and Preservation Efforts at ISCR-NICH Belize" by Rolando Cocom of ISCR NICH:
One of the pillars of our work is to ensure that research, information and archival materials are accessible to Belizeans and researchers.
This includes carrying out the processes of archiving, digitization and open access through which our collections are better preserved and made more accessible.
The presentation was delivered at the virtual symposium: "Capacity Assessment of Latin American and Caribbean Partners: A Symposium about Open- Access, Technological Needs, and Institutional Sustainability” held on April 16 and 17, 2020 and funded by the CLIR Microgrant.
San Pedro: Current restaurants offering delivery
Lots of new options on the list today....
The Placencia Ambition Forum
The Government of Belize, in its capacity as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), will host the Placencia Ambition Forum from April 20-22, 2020.
The Placencia Ambition Forum will bring together major actors in the climate change negotiations around the central theme of increasing ambition and safeguarding the Paris Agreement.
Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow will be the keynote speaker at the High-Level Opening Session of the virtual Forum, which will also include inter alia, high-level messages from the President of COP25, the Secretary General of the United Nations, and the UNFCCC Executive Secretary.
Ministry of Health SARSCOV2 Lab Screening numbers as of 3pm
No new reported COVID-9 cases in four consecutive days. This is our data up until 3 pm Friday.
Please, let us continue to practice/ensure social distancing - that is key in ensuring our numbers in terms of positive cases don’t go up.
We will be providing further updates through the weekend!
Let's Rise Telethon
Founding members of Jankunu Productions along with the Love Foundation were able to raise just over twenty three thousand dollars via an initiative aimed at helping persons in vulnerable groups as well as front line workers. The foundation, Jankunu Productions and RSV Limited conducted a telethon Friday to raise funds as part of a covid relief initiative.
Caye Caulker Food Fund Drive
Caye Caulker relies heavily on tourism. With tourism having vanished completely due to the Covid19 pandemic, and people needing to stay home, most islanders have lost their jobs and income, some of them already living day by day. Result: There are those that are going hungry on the island.
No one should go hungry. No one should have to worry about feeding their children, we simply cannot let this happen.
Here are the amended SI no 55 and 56 of the 2020 Belize Constitution
Monthly Weather Summary, March 2020
March is usually a warm, dry and windy month across the country of Belize. A gusty easterly to southeasterly wind normally prevails throughout much of the month supporting warm and fair conditions. Whatever limited rainfall that occurs during the month is typically associated with one or two cold fronts, prefrontal troughs, shear lines and low level easterly wind surges.
March 2020 started off generally fair with only light isolated showers as a moderate Easterly to northeasterly airflow prevailed across the country. The second day of the month skies were mostly cloudy as layered clouds dominated the area but no significant rainfall occurred.
State of Education Update Monday
Tune in on Monday at 10 a.m., to the Government's Press Office Facebook page for a live webcast and update on the state of Belize's education.
Lord Ashcroft COVID Relief Fund
The Belize Red Cross has received a $500,000 donation from Lord Ashcroft COVID Relief Fund. It is meant to help alleviate hardship for in-need families during the pandemic.
Contact Information for Mental Health Services
Please reach out to us for Mental health service during this COVID-19.
Corozal: 422-3909/422-2072 ext. 241.
Orange Walk: 670-9367/670-9375.
Belize City: 223-0131/222-4920.
Belmopan: 661-8178 (Daytime, Whatsapp only).
600-9678 (After 5:00 p.m.).
San Ignacio: 664-2885.
Punta Gorda: 625-6415.
Caye Caulker Tour Operators assisting Coast Guard
Thank you to Caye Caulker Tour Operators who have joined forces with the Coast Guards and Village Council to provide coastal patrols. Since before Easter they have made sure only authorized persons/boats, after screening persons, can come on the island temporarily. My higgest kudos to them who spend hours on the water chasing boats and discouraging unwanted persons/boats. It is a quiet operation, these guys don't blow their horns; just get the job done. Caye Caulker does not know their sacrifice...so I will toot the horn for them. Its all voluntary: for the love of the island. Much Respect to Artie M., Chang Lee, Carlos A., Henry L., Lawrence A., Valentin M., Kyle R., Amado W., George R. Jr., Gerardo A., Kevin S., Past Coast Guard Commander Mr Cocom and present Commander Mr Moore. Their dedication and loyalty to this island is commendable. Thank you!
DONATE BLOOD *** COROZAL COMMUNITY HOSPITAL
The management of Corozal Community Hospital and the laboratory would like to inform the general public that the lab is open for blood donation, Monday to Saturday from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
TUNE IN TO ONLINE RADIO BELIZE MIX WITH ADELA "ADELITA" PEDERSON OF COROZAL, SATURDAY @ 11:00 A.M.*** WE ARE MAYA
GET READY WORLD FOR THE APRIL EPISODE OF "AH WAYK OP LAIK DIS" RADIO TALK SHOW VIA SKYPE !! WOW! WOW! AMAZING GUESTS FROM LOS ANGELES, CHICAGO & BELIZE -- STAY TUNE --
BSI COLLABORATES WITH SUGAR CANE FARMERS WOMEN'S GROUPS TO PROVIDE FACE MASKS TO ITS STAKEHOLDERS IN ORANGE WALK & COROZAL
On the heels of the announcement by Prime Minister Dean Barrow, encouraging the use of face masks, Belize Sugar Industries Ltd. (BSI), a member of ASR Group, started the distribution of locally made face masks to stakeholders—cane cutters, truck drivers, farmers, and harvesting group leaders.
BSI secured and provided the materials for fabrication of more than 5,400 face masks to women’s groups linked to cane farmer associations from the Orange Walk and Corozal districts. The women began the mass production more than a week ago after BSI’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) department approved a sample based on CDC guidelines for non-medical masks to be effective at trapping droplets from speaking, coughing and/or sneezing. Distribution of these fabric face masks commenced yesterday and each stakeholder will receive a packet containing two masks with a mask-use guide inside.
FCCA Essay Competition 2020
The FCCA is holding their 2020 Children's Essay Competition. The deadline to enter is July 6th. The Belize Tourism Board has all the details. There are some huge cash prizes. Best of luck!
"It's that time of year again for the FCCA Children's Essay competition. Know a talented student? Encourage them to apply and they may win a generous prize!"
BWS COVID-19 Assistance to Customers
Supa G live stream concert
No need to quarantine in boredom, tune in this Saturday April 18th for a treat! Supa G live stream concert on DJ Dalla's Facebook page-Sec9Live.com @ 7pm, Don't miss it!
Maya Legend of Yuum Cimil
The Maya natives of today, inhabitants of the Yucatan Peninsula, assure that Yum Cimil, Lord of Death, goes around the rooms of the sick to take them away. This much feared lord was the ancient Lord of the Underworld, who was called Ah Puch, also known as Ah Cimil, Kisin (the stinking one), and Hun Ahau. The Maya represented him as a skeleton with the face of a jaguar or owl, from his body you could see the ribs and the spine without meat; that is, only the bones were appreciated. But sometimes his body was covered in flesh, bloated flesh filled with black circles caused by decay.
Boots Battles On The Breadlines
COVID-19, it's left tens of thousands of Belizeans jobless, and there's a creeping sense of desperation amongst the most needy, but, on the other side, over twenty thousand Belizeans have received their first unemployment relief cheque, four thousand have received or are waiting for their enhanced food pantry package, while tens of thousands have applied for a package of food assistance.
But, today in Belize City, securing a little assistance for some Belize City residents was a hassle.
Cops, They're Only Human
And while the police got publicly pilloried by a cabinet minister for that mis-step, today the commissioner - speaking generally - said that, right now, the police are under pressure - and he has to let some things slide:
Gangsters Get Out
We tracked down the commissioner this morning in the Raccoon Street station yard because we wanted to find out about the biggest news of last night: the police and the state had decided to set free 134 alleged gang members who had been detained under the Southside State of Emergency on March 18th. Initially, authorities had said they would lock them up for 30 days, and then roll that over for another 30 to 60 days.
But as we told you last night, the commissioner hinted to them on Wednesday that he was inclined to bypass that and end their detention last night, at the 30 day mark.
27 Guns For 134 Gangsters?
So, the police have already gotten 22 guns, and a promise of 5 more. But, 27 guns from 134 gangsters? The math doesn't seem right. We asked the COMPOL about it:
Jules Vasquez, reporter:
"Sir, we know that these gangs they have arsenals and you are dealing with 134 alleged gangsters. Is it realistic to think that they will hand over their weapons? 2) Is this informal gun amnesty, because when you are in possession of a firearm it's a remandable offence?"
Gang Fight Triggers Detentions
But, quicker than you could say "gang truce", there was reportedly a gang related fight this morning in Belize City. Reports to us are that It happened near a meat pie shop on Hyde's Lane between two warring gangs, and it was the police who fired a shot to break up the melee.
We asked the commissioner about it:
Will Gangsters Get Back At State?
But, could that tough talk, and the 30 day detention trigger what's known as a retaliation against the state? That's when gang affiliates commit deadly crimes just to "give the police work", as they say. It has happened before and lives have been lost as a consequence. We asked the commissioner about that today:
Jules Vasquez, reporter:
"Speak if you can about retaliation or the possibility of retaliation against the state. We know that this is a pattern of behavior throughout in the Caribbean whenever these measures are instituted, the criminals have a tendency because they feel they were unjustly incarcerated at great pain to their families and they want to exact a retaliation against the state."
Compassion In COVID Time
And, despite the "mano duro" position being taken, the fact is that there has been the exercise of some compassion in letting the detainees out after 30 days.
Williams discussed this today:
"We have to bear in mind as well that these people do have relatives out here who are to some of them are punishing and we have to look at striking a balance to see what can be done with a view to be able to have them out here to provide for their loved one's during this time and so it was on that basis that the decision was made not to extend."
Four Days, No New COVID Cases
As we told you at the top of the news, there are no new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Belize tonight. But, about 100 more persons have been tested and all those results came back negative.
So, 734 persons have been tested total, 716 of those tests have been negative, while 18 were positive. Of those 18, two have died, and the other 16 are recovering - with none in intensive care. Notably, no positive tests have emerged since Monday.
Ariaga Advises COVID Caution
And while the numbers are encouraging, and the positive results seem to be trending down, the head of intensive care at Belize's national referral hospital warns that we shouldn't get relaxed at all, because a true outbreak could be around the corner.
Dr. Pedro Ariaga spoke to us via video conference from a hotel room in Belize City where he is on quarantine for possible COVID-19 exposure. He said the numbers could trend up quickly once more tests are done:...
Ariaga: KHMH Iso Unit Works
Ariaga also discussed the controversy over the COVID-19 isolation unit being housed at the KHMH. He says it is not ideal, but because ventilators need a steady oxygen supply, it is the only practical choice:
"What do you think of the isolation ward being within the walls of the KHMH?"
Dr. Pedro Ariaga - Head of ICU, KHMH:
"Difficult question to answer, because the problem is where else we are going to put that unit? For example, we are talking about patients that supposed to be with mechanical ventilation..."
Ariaga Conferencing Through COVID
And while he can't currently attend to any of those who are really sick, Ariaga says that even on quarantine, he remains actively involved in the management of patients by doing just what he did with us: video calls to the medical team in the ICU and the isolation unit:
"But now everything has stopped for you, while you remain on self-isolation. Is that right?"
Fast & Furious After Curfew
And, as Araiga said, to keep COVID-19 at bay, Belizeans have to stay home.
But not everyone is following the rules, and last night two Santa Elena curfew breakers were sitting in a white pick up truck when they were spotted by police. They tried to evade arrest by speeding off but the cops pursued them. It was a high-speed chase that ended when the truck crashed into a fence. Commissioner of Police Chester Williams told us more today.
Curfew Arrests Coming Down
And while police expect to make arrests in that curfew violation, overall, those arrests have been trending down. There have been 900 in two weeks, but the Commissioner says he thinks police are using a softer approach:
How Do The Cops Keep Up?
And while police may be using more discretion, they also have to be constantly doing homework because the State Of Emergency regulations are constantly being tweaked.
Today statutory instruments 55 and 56 went out with the latest regulations. Less than a month ago, the whole State of Emergency thing started out at SI No. 47.
PSU, No Agreement On Wage Freeze
But, while the regs may change, the 8:00 pm curfew has been pretty steady for two weeks now. Still though, night drives and tailgating are far from the only things we've had to give up in COVID-time Belize. Tens of thousands have lost their livelihoods and those lucky enough to still have jobs are facing the possibility of pay cuts.
And while public officers are facing the reality that they may have to give up their increment, an internal memo from the PSU says no agreement has been reached.
Wildfires Out West
Right now, Belizeans are doing their best to reduce their risk of catching the highly contagious coronavirus. That's why there was great concern this morning when residents of Belmopan and nearby communities woke up to a thick cloud of smoke polluting their air.
As all of us know by now, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that directly affects the lungs. And so, the local experts are concerned that air pollution can increase the COVID health risks.
Shilpa's Frontline Story
Our next story comes from New Jersey. That's where Shilpa Bhatt is an ultrasound technologist on the frontlines of the COVID war. That state has one of the highest infection and mortality rates in the US, and Bhatt says that because of her speciality she is always one of the first to be called to deal with new admissions. Bhatt has strong ties to Belize. Her parents lived here for 28 years and her mother was a doctor in Orange Walk while her father ran a pharmacy. She told us what's the present situation in New Jersey and how she deals with it.
Face Masks For Farmers
ASR/BSI, the millers of sugarcane in the north, is reporting tonight that they've been working with women's groups of the 3 cane farming associations to mass produce over 5,400 face masks for the cane farmers of Corozal and Orange Walk.
The company says that after the Prime Minister's announcement encouraging the use of face masks to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19, they secured and provided the materials for these locally-made masks.
Homes For Hens
On Tuesday we told you about the chicken crisis facing the nation. And at the start of the week dwindling poultry sales were straining the storage capabilities and threatening the freshness of products slated for sale. We also told you that one producer Quality Poultry was combating the crisis by offering buy two get one deals. And today General Manager Raymond Barkman told us that the sales quote: " are working very well."
A Tarpon's Tale
Tarpon fishing for consumption or sale is illegal in Belize. It's a species designated for catch and release only. That's why these pictures, posted on Facebook, caused outrage among conservation-minded Belizeans who saw it.
In the first picture, a man, who is obviously hiding his face to conceal his identity, is posing with a massive fish. Experts tell us that the size indicates that this is an elderly Tarpon specimen.
No Cabbies During COVID
This week a taxi driver was arrested on Cayo's Black Rock Road for carrying out a regular run. And today we asked Commissioner Williams how many Taxi men countrywide have been charged and whether they're allowed to be working at all.
"Taxi men have to understand that while yes they can run they can only run on call and the call must be one that is of emergency it cannot be an ordinary run and so if it is that they're out there doing routine taxiing then that is not permissible under the regulations."
Gang Members Released from Detention After Thirty-day Lockdown
On Thursday night, more than one hundred and forty persons suspected of being members of gangs were released from the Belize Central Prison after a month of incarceration. At the [...]
Belize Purchasing South Korean Testing Kits from Cayman, but Did Not Accept Donation through SICA
According to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, in a recorded statement, Belize is acquiring testing kits from the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands has found itself with a surplus of the [...]
COVID-19 Update: 734 Screened, No New Cases
The last confirmed positive COVID-19 cases were reported on Monday; since then, there has been no new cases which means that going into the weekend, the number of confirmed cases [...]
The Dairy Sector’s Struggles Amid COVID-19 Restrictions
All this week we’ve been reporting on the economic impact of COVID-19 on the agro-productive sector. As you’ve heard earlier this week, the Spanish Lookout Community is facing a number [...]
185 Fires Recorded in a Single Day!
Residents in western Belize, particularly in Belmopan and San Ignacio and Santa Elena have been complaining about smog that has been lingering going on for almost two weeks. They say [...]
A Donation to the Red Cross Association in Memory of Rene Ashcroft
The Red Cross Association is well-known all over the world, for its expertise in organizing food distribution and other relief efforts in times of disasters. On Thursday, the Belize branch [...]
An Economic Shock Unlike No Other
In addressing the nation during a televised statement on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Dean Barrow touched on a number of issues as they relate to the coronavirus catastrophe. Among those [...]
Help is for Everyone, Red and Blue
In respect of details of government’s relief assistance, PM Barrow reminded that everything his administration is doing to get the country through this crisis is with a view to helping [...]
Order and Social Distancing; a Must During Pantry Distributions
Long lines are forming at centres where the pantry programme is being distributed. This morning, it turned ugly when police disrupted the pantry disbursed by the Salvation Army. But at [...]
State of Emergency and Subsistence Farming
Subsistence farming continues to be a way of life among members of the indigenous communities in southern Belize. Amid the national state of emergency brought about by the coronavirus crisis, [...]
Returning Home to Toledo Amid COVID-19 Crisis
The south, Stann Creek and Toledo Districts, have not reported any case of the coronavirus. But in several communities, residents who migrated to other parts of the country where they [...]
Environmental Experts Weigh In on Fire Increase!
As you heard earlier in the newscast, the Forest Department is facing a growing problem with fires across the country. And there may be regulations coming as early as next [...]
ComPol Chester Williams: Traffic Backup at Checkpoint a Good Thing
There have been a number of complaints about the backup of traffic on the Philip Goldson Highway in the mornings by commuters coming into the City from Ladyville. That congestion [...]
The Ladyville and Lord’s Bank Villages COVID-19 Committee Kicks Into Action
The communities of Ladyville and Lord’s Bank have not been exempted from the impacts of COVID-19. A large number of residents work in some way in the tourism industry which [...]
The Sugar Industry Prepared for COVID-19
This week, we have been covering the state of the productive sector. Dairy and the general livestock industry, as we heard, are having a difficult time during this state of [...]
The Sugar Industry Preparing for Another Drought
The 2019 extended drought has had an adverse impact on the agriculture industry in Belize; in fact, some farmers are still reeling from it. It caused a significant drop in [...]
Driver Abandons Crashed Vehicle After Police Pursuit
On Thursday night in San Ignacio, a motorist fled the scene of a collision after reportedly being pursued by police officers on motorcycle. The pickup truck, as seen here, ran [...]
The Belize Zoo Needs Your Help!
The Belize Zoo is asking for help for one hundred and fifty plus residents. The zoo has closed its doors and, like many other entities, it is unable to earn [...]
Signs and Symptoms of Mental Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you are feeling stressed, not your usual self and finding it difficult to navigate during the COVID-19 pandemic, you are not alone. The difficulties, restrictions and other elements connected [...]
Tips on How to Cope with COVID-19 Mental Distress!
And if you are experiencing mental distress, Ines Cano shared some tips about what you can do to help you during such challenging times. Ines Cano, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner [...]