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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
UK provides £5 million to help the Caribbean address the impact of COVID-19
The Government of the United Kingdom announced its new support to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Caribbean. This support includes £3 million to the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) for the provision of essential medical supplies and management support to help public health systems around the region combat the virus. A further £2 million will be used to scale up assistance for the most vulnerable households, and to help counter domestic violence against women and children.
Island authorities warn of possible Dengue outbreak due to rainy season
The rainy season is fast approaching and with all those refreshing showers comes a new challenge: mosquito season. These blood-sucking insects are already making their presence known in swarms in San Pedro Town. Local authorities are concerned that it could lead to another outbreak of the endemic disease Dengue. Thus, islanders are urged to keep their properties clean to eliminate any potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
May 8, 2020 Statement by Belize Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow
Belize PM Dean Barrow addresses the nation re: COVID-19 Financial: "...we are looking at a larger than 450 million-dollar, pandemic-induced recurrent revenue shortfall for this fiscal year." Health: Once Belize reaches the 28-day milestone of 0 new covid cases, a further relaxation of some of the remaining restrictions will be considered.
Various Belizean Sources
Caye Caulker Soup Kitchen day Location
Opening of Sea Cucumber Fishery
The Fisheries Department hereby informs fisherfolk with a valid fishing license that the sea cucumber fishery will be open for fishing from May 11 to June 30, 2020 or when the catch quota is realized, whichever is first.
The sustainability and long-term viability of the sea cucumber fishery is of utmost importance to all; therefore, fishers are required to adhere to the following regulations:
Belize Emergency Relief helps over 3,000 Belizeans
We are happy to announce we have come in help to over 3,000 Belizeans in need over the last month, with the help of our private donations and all your generous contributions on our GOFUNDME page!! We are humbled by your kind support toward our efforts.
The Artist of the Day, Kelvin Baizar
So many of the activities that we call “fun” are simply depleting our bank accounts. Not wanting to completely stop “having fun”, I tried to minimize the spending by seeking something enjoyable and constructive to do. I wanted to make something of my life. I remembered clearly the day I wanted more from myself and for myself. That desire sent me on a soul-searching quest. Things I looked at as bearing minimal to no significance were suddenly becoming the scenes of my greatest attraction. I was oblivious about how it would change my life, yet I felt a transformation on the horizon.
IA Official, Mr. Josue Ramos performing a routine road inspection, monitoring road work
Below is the George Price Highway Rehabilitation Project, Mr. Ramos is monitoring the road works to ensure that the developments don’t come at the cost of our heritage.
The work steady continues ....
Mrs.Cherry Mae Lamb, curator of the Malate Museum in Progresso Village
Our Museum Month activities includes showcasing our cultural village museums in the Corozal District. Today we introduce you to Mrs.Cherry Mae Lamb, curator of the Malate Museum in Progresso Village. Cherry Mae has had a passion for collecting from when she was very young, she loves collecting rocks to this day! In her youth she found all sorts of items in the Progresso Lagoon, including antique bottles; a bottle collection was underway...
Transcript of the Statement by the Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow. May 8, 2020
Good morning, members of the media. Good morning, members of the public,
I want to give you an update on the state of play regarding our COVID-19 struggles. Before I do so, though, allow me the opportunity to express my best wishes for a speedy recovery for the Right Honourable Said Musa, the ex-Prime Minister of Belize. I understand that he was last night admitted to hospital having suffered what was described as a mild stroke. I’m sure that I join all other Belizeans in wishing him a speedy and completed recovery.
Now in terms of what I propose for this morning, I will make my initial presentation after which the good Dr. Gough will give you an overview of our supplies inventory and our testing trajectory. After that, of course, both of us will take the media’s questions.
Belize Celebrates Nurses Week 2020
Every year Belize celebrates Nurses Week from May 6th to 12th. The theme this year is “Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Nursing the World to Health.”
The week culminates on May 12th, International Nurses Day. International Nurses Day celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale: nurse, innovator, reformer, and leader of improved health care.
This year’s theme is an exciting opportunity to promote nursing across the world. The World Health Organization declared 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
Today is Global Big Day
Saturday, May 9th, is being observed as Global Big Day. It is birding's biggest day! On Global Big Day you get to check in with the birds in and around where you live and share your findings with a global community of birders. Birding expert and guide Roni Martinez tells us how you can join in if you are looking for something fun, educational, and easy to do right in your own back yards!
2020 Belize Bank Scholarship Program
Attention High School and Sixth Form students ! The Belize Bank is now accepting applications for their 2020 Scholarship Program.
Head to https://www.belizebank.com/ to apply !
The Humes bus schedule
Humes' Bus Service will operate another bus run starting May 11th, 2020. The other run previously posted on this page will continue as normal. We continue to strive to serve you better!
Global Big Day Prizes
We want to encourage beginning eBirders for this Global Big Day. So we teamed up with our friends at Belize Audubon Society and Mayawalk Tours. And....well we have some gifts for your effort tomorrow. We consider a beginning eBirder, someone who so far has 25 or less checklists submitted to eBird. We will be awarding specific efforts tomorrow. Please feel free to tag your fellow beginning eBirder.
The amateur eBirder who photographs the most species tomorrow, you will win a Birds of Belize Book.
Resiliency in Travel Marketing Webinar
Did you know Belizean publication Caribbean Lifestyle - Belize is offering a free webinar on Resiliency in Travel Marketing? We urge all stakeholders to take advantage of this on-demand webinar that contains key information for the industry during this time.
Manatee seen tangled in a net in Corozal Bay
Yesterday afternoon, SACD was called to a report of an Antillean manatee in need of help near the Dollar Pier in Sarteneja. The manatee was a sub-adult, approximately 6 feet (2 meters) long and was clearly in distress. It was heavily entangled in a fishing net, with floats that could clearly be seen when the animal surfaced to breathe. Despite multiple attempts, the Rangers and Wildtracks were unable to contain the animal safely to remove the net.
Oceana's May 2020 E-Newsletter
Our latest newsletter is finally out!
Rt. Hon. Musa Recovering After Slight Stroke
Tonight, former two-term Prime Minister, Said Musa, is at the Belize Medical Associates Hospital recovering from what a family statement calls "a mild stroke."
He was admitted last night with symptoms of a stroke and has since received emergency treatment. According to his family, he is alert and stable but will remain in the hospital for the next few days.
During his press conference this morning, Prime Minister Dean Barrow sent best wishes for his parliamentary colleague:
GOB, Broke And Busted
And while the Prime Minister had time to send well wishes for a colleague with whom he has often sparred, he had no kind words for the Public Service Union.
As we told you, his government and the PSU are locked in a dispute over annual increments. Government wants the Union to fully forego this year's increment, the union wants it deferred so that they can get it back sometime down the road when government's finances improve.
PM Calls Out PSU For "Intransigence"
So withe government's revenue going to a third of what it needs just to cover its expenses, the Prime Minister is saying that the PSU is just being difficult to make what he calls a minimal sacrfice:
"It is in that context that the GOB proposal, requiring the most minimal of sacrifices from those paid from the public purse, must be seen. All we are asking is that public officers and teachers give up increments for fiscal year 2020/2021. In the case of heads of departments and other senior public officers, they have reached the top of their scales and so they get no increments. Accordingly, they are being asked to give up half of their entertainment allowances. CEO's are to sacrifice five percent of their gratuity and a portion of their allowances. And all other contract officers are similarly to give up some gratuity and some allowances. Ministers have forgone one month's salary and 800 dollars monthly in allowances. Thus, the increment freeze group is, in dollar terms, being asked for the smallest amount of all."
PSU Punches Back
That's very hard talk to the union, and what did they have to say back to the PM?
This afternoon, we got a chance to speak with the designated PSU spokesperson about the PM's harsh words, calling them intransigent and characterizing them as selfish.
1st Vice President, Dean Flowers told us that from the union's perspective, the Prime Minister is downplaying the long-term effects of foregoing the increment due to public officers:
PM, Not Backing Down From Harsh Words
And we did ask the Prime Minister why not go with the deferral instead of just asking the union to forego the increment. He said everyone is sacrificing and the PSU's membership has to do the same:
Jules Vasquez- Reporter:
"Obviously you are sticking to the position that they must forego. Why not entertain the proposal of a deferral, since they say it will amount to more or less the same cost to government or the same savings for government?"
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow- Prime Minister:
"It is not fair for the public servants who are not having their substantive salaries touched to insist that we won't give up. We will merely deferr. When you compare to the others in the very public sector, such as the CEOs such as the contract officers, what they give up, they won't get back, you know. When they give up their 5% of their gratuity..."
PM: No Retrenchment, No Matta What
But, will there be a point at which there's just no more to borrow and the government has to retrench? Here's that question:
"If the PSU doesn't budge would you look at possible retrenchment? And what is the government prepared to do? Or how do you proceed with the PSU after this?"
Rt. Hon. Prime Minister:
"I make clear that, in the same way as we are determined not to interfere one width of the substantive salary..."
Too Broke to Bail Out Muni's
And while public officers salaries are secure - we can't say the same for employees of municipals governments. Those bodies are especially hard hit by the economic slowdown - and government has been unable to give them a bailout - including UDP councils in San Ignacio and Punta Gorda. San Ignacio has had to send workers home because the government can't help:
"Government's revenue collections are collapsing, have collapsed. We have to borrow to keep the public service hold..."
Barrow Will Borrow Till "Noh-moh-noh-moh"
And while the PM kept pounding the PSU for not being ready to - in his view - make a sacrifice, the union can legitimately ask, looking at what could be a slow recovery for government finances, would it even be a one time sacrifice?:
Plus TV Reporter:
"What guarantee if any at all can be given to the Public Service Union and their members that this is perhaps a one time sacrifice that is being asked to be made during these difficult challenging times?"
Dr. Fausto's Fiasco
Regularly on the news, we've been reporting on the hundreds of Belizeans who have been criminally charged for violating the State of Emergency Regulations. Well tonight - in what is surely a first - a doctor who works at the San Ignacio Community Hospital is making the news because he too has been criminally charged.
But Dr. Fausto Alvin Pineda - who works at the San Ignacio public Hospital wasn't charged for being out after curfew, or failing to wear a mask in public; he was charged for practicing medicine privately during the State of Emergency.
What Happens After Monday?
So, there are no new cases of COVID 19 to report tonight, and Belize is coming up on 28 days with a positive test. That would mark the end of an outbreak, or what is being called the first wave.
So what's next for national life? Today, the Prime Minister said the Sate of Emergency measures will be relaxed some more, and, best news, you'll be allowed to go swimming!:
When Will We Open?
So with a push for local tourism to start, when will foreign tourism be permitted. That means opening the airport and cruise. Ports to American visitors - and if you follow international news, you know that the US has recorded 1.3 million cases and almost eighty thousand deaths.
And that's why the PM said that Belize can't open until a rapid test for the coronavirus is widely available:
Manzna Not Naming Dates
And while the PM and the BTB have their eyes on that July re-opening, Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero wouldn't make a commitment to that date. Speaking on Ask the Experts this afternoon, he said the situation remains fluid:
"We'll see how that works out between now and July. For example, there is a major fair down west in July. They have ask me for my opinion on the matter, that's 2 months from now..."
Bringing Back Belizeans
Now, that would definitely be a worst case scenario. But, in the best case, where we continue to go along as we have been, without any positive tests, the first persons Belize's borders will be open to is Belizeans who are stuck abroad and haven't been able to come home since the airport closed on March 23rd.
The Prime Minister says an accommodation for their managed return will be made, and soon:
Cruisers Coming Home?
Those dozens of Belizeans who are stuck on the cruise ships where they worked might be the first to come home. The Prime Minister says they may be accepted later this month - if the cruise lines foot the bill for their local quarantine:
"In terms of the cruise ships we have indeed received 2 requests; one from Carnival and one from Royal Caribbean cruise lines for the repatriation of Belizean crew members with respect to both companies. I think Carnival is asking is they could be allowed to bring back these Belizeans on the 19th of this month and Royal Caribbean is asking for the 23rd of this month..."
Is July Too Soon?
And some eager travellers are already paying for their plane tickets to Belize. The airlines are taking reservations for July second - so who gave them that idea? That's what we asked the PM:
"I believe now that they are aiming for a July date, again, aspirationally, is to coincide with the end of the state of emergency which of course is to take place at the conclusion of the month of June, but that's where it is..."
Making Bouquets Belizean
Sunday is Mother's day, and CVOID 19 has made more meaningful, but gift giving has never been more difficult. Meaningful, because we all appreciate life a little more when we know that a quarter million people have died worldwide form COVID-19. But, difficult because where the heck are you gonna get that bouquet that's worthy of your one and only mother?
It's a problem because most of Belize's flowers come across the border form Chetumal and that border has been closed for 6 weeks.
Manza, Covid Killjoy
And like a constant COVID killjoy, DHS Manzanero says heading out to buy your mother her gift is not an essential purpose. He's advising that mom's take a rain check on their special day.
"This is going to be perhaps one of the first mother's day when my suggestion and my request is going to be and I know perhaps the business community is not going to like what I say..."
Even at Day 28, Not COVID Free
And while Manzanero is being extra-cautious, it may come from his ardent desire to get to that 28th day. As we've told you - if there are no new cases - Monday will mark the end of Belize's first wave of COVID-19. Still, the DHS cautions against declaring the country COVID-19 free. Here's what he had to say about expected subsequent waves:
"If we go through this weekend and Monday we are back here and we don't identify any case, again, we are going to be doing testing tomorrow and Monday - we would have gone through a full 28 day cycle..."
Beware, The Covid Cycle
And what happens when the next case is confirmed? According to Manzanero, in that event, the public health playbook reads like shampoo bottles, rinse and repeat.
"You have to go back to exactly what we have gone and mind you we are reviewing every single step that we took until we got here, so we would have to go back to what we did the week of March 23rd, that particular weekend..."
Testing on Schedule
And if there is a next case lurking somewhere out there, at this point, it can only be found with randomised testing.
Testing of those persons has ramped up, but the rate of testing has also slowed. Only the third batch of tests for this week will be run on Saturday.
Moving forward, the national testing schedule will be outlined on a calendar, and will only be altered under suspicion of a cluster or individual case.
Cases Under Investigation
And through Tuesday's batch of tests, we learned that the last two confirmed cases had come back with a second negative test, meaning that they had shed the COVID virus. It also meant that there were zero cases of COVID-19 in Belize.
And since then attention has shifted from the number of confirmed cases to the number of cases under investigation. But what constitutes a case under investigation?
Focussing On the Frontline
Last week 16 BDF personnel, Police, and immigration officers ended up under investigation. It's a new testing tactic focusing on the frontline workers who have contact with a wide array of people. It's set to expand next week and today Manazanero broke down exactly who can expect to be tested.
Beware the Borders
Another subset of suspicious cases come from illegal border entries, the greatest threat to Belize's current state of being in a safe silo. And they may be more numerous than you think or can keep track of. Manzanero laid them out earlier today.
"Last weekend we had people at the northern border who they were all swabbed - people who had a boat incident en-route to the US docked in Placencia, they were swabbed..."
Don't Sleep On Dengue
And while you can stop people from coming across the border you can't stop mosquitoes. They are the vectors for Dengue. The number of cases was especially bad last year and may be so again this year. And that's why Manzanero says don't worry about the recent rain giving you a flu or cold, beware of Dengue.
"We actually have not seen people get the flu just because there is more rain. Dengue is a concern, ZIKA is a concern, chikungunya is a concern. We are started to see patients particularly up north who are having dengue..."
What Do Churches, Cars and Casinos Have in Common?
And whether you waiting for a sip from the sacred chalice or a drink at the bar you'll be waiting for a while that's because Churches, Bars, and Casinos are all on the list of establishments that create mass gatherings and won't be opening anytime soon.
"This is a very tricky situation. I've been getting lots of calls and messages by different smaller churches asking when is it going to open and again it goes back to the same question I had last week of the river, of even in a swimming pool in a public place..."
After The Unemployment Gate Closed
And finally tonight on the national response to COVID 19 - what about those unemployed who got left behind. We mean those ones who lost their jobs after the COVID 19 relief program was closed. The press asked the Prime Minister about tit today:
"At this time we have already said that if it becomes necessary we will do so. But remember I spoke about over 40,000 applicants having been approved..."
PM Responds to P.S.U. on Waiver of Increments
Two major issues occupied the prime minister’s press conference today. The dismal state of the economy and the deadlock with the Public Service Union are both pressing matters. The government [...]
PM to P.S.U.: “Do not Continue to be Unreasonable”
While government’s monthly operating expenses sit at roughly ninety million dollars, the steep plummet in May will leave a sixty million dollar deficit. In the context of cuts being made [...]
No Deferral of Increments for Public Officers
To further emphasize make the point that the P.S.U. is being irrational by rejecting government’s proposal to waive increments, PM Barrow says that when the economy rebounds other public sector [...]
John Briceño Says G.O.B. Disrespected Union; Needs to Cut Fat
Following the PM’s press conference, the Leader of the Opposition John Briceño made comments on the dismal state of affairs. While all are expected to make sacrifices, given the economic [...]
PM Can Freeze Increments Without Changing S.I.
The threat of an amendment to the existing Public Service Regulations looms over the Public Service Union as a last-ditch effort by the Minister of Finance to get public officers [...]
John Briceño says PM is Using Crisis to Acquire More Power
A letter from the Ministry of Finance to the Public Service Union, earlier this week, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight first sounded the ultimatum that the PM can well proceed to [...]
Belize’s Economy is On the Ropes and Stiffer Punches Keep Landing
Belize’s economy, knocked down by the debilitating fiscal impact of COVID-19, is on its knees and will take a lot from the public and private sectors to get it standing [...]
Johnny B Says Reopen the Economy, but Be Very Careful
Since the beginning of the week, there has been an ease on restrictions of the state of emergency and the businesses are reopening except for places such as casinos, gyms [...]
Barrow to Borrow to the Very Last for Salaries
Back to the issue of the public service. In this morning’s press conference, Prime Minister Barrow pledged that he will borrow until the very last to ensure that their substantial [...]
John Briceño: “The U.D.P. Government is Broke…Belizeans Paying a Heavy Price.”
Government is out of cash in the treasury and debt will continue to grow as government looks to borrow and borrow to meet its wage bill and other obligations. Briceño, [...]
Former PM Said Musa Recuperating from Mild Stroke
Well wishes flowed today for the quick recovery of former Prime Minister Said Musa and sitting Area Representative for Fort George Division. The former PM is recuperating after a mild [...]
Belize Inches Closer to End of 28 Day Incubation Period
Belize is nearing the end of the twenty-eight day incubation period since the last publicly reported confirmed case of COVID-19. While we prepare to breathe a collective sigh of relief [...]
COVID-19 Infographic Explained
The Ministry of Health has carried out one thousand one hundred and fifty-nine COVID-19 tests. That’s the figure on Thursday’s infographics which provides a quick overview of Belize’s COVID-19 situation. [...]
DHS Cautions Public About Subsequent COVID-19 Waves
If no new COVID-19 case is reported over the next thirty hours, Sunday will mark twenty-eight days straight since no case of COVID-19 confirmed in Belize. It will mean then [...]
No Daily Testing; Random Testing Outlined
And when it comes to testing, Doctor Marvin Manzanero notes that daily testing is not taking place. He outlines some of the industries and frontline workers who will be captured [...]
DHS Speaks on the Use of Masks
Everyone has to wear a mask in public, but you are allowed not to use one if you are travelling in a private vehicle. Doctor Marvin Manzanero spoke today about [...]
Cayo Doc Criminally Charged!
Doctor Fausto Alvin Pineda of Benque Viejo del Carmen was arrested and charged for ‘Engaging in Private Practice While Prohibited from Doing So. Doctor Pineda works at the San Ignacio [...]
Tourism Industry May Reopen as Early as July
The opening up of the country for Belizeans to move freely to other local destinations can start as early as next week. But that brings about the question of a [...]
John Briceño Says G.O.B. Should Have Listened to Warnings on Investment in Tourism Industry
Even before a first case of the novel coronavirus was detected in Belize, the pandemic shattered the tourism industry. Airline and cruise tourism came to a standstill with cancelations fast [...]
PM Weighs in on Harvest Caye
Earlier this week, we reported that Harvest Caye was being put up as part of several collaterals for the financially embattled Norwegian Cruise Line to float a bond of two [...]
Belizeans Stranded Abroad Will Finally Return Home
Thousands of Belizeans remain stranded in other countries around the world, including students who are studying abroad, that are waiting to return home, following the closure of the borders and [...]
No Fires Recorded Today!
There’s a bit of good news to report tonight as it relates to the fires that were ravaging the forests and farm lands. According to the Forest Department, the satellite [...]
A Soup Kitchen to Help Those in Need in Mesopotamia
COVID-19 has shed light on the number of families that are in desperate need of putting food on their table. In the Mesopotamia Division in Belize City, a soup kitchen, [...]
Taiwan Supports Regional MSME’s
Today, the Republic of China reaffirmed its support for the region’s micro, small and medium enterprises executed by the Center for the Promotion of MSMEs, known as CENPROMYPE. Taiwan signed [...]
Global Big Day Observed in Belize!
May ninth is birding’s biggest day around the world. It is called Global Big Day which is an annual celebration of birds around you. While the current state of emergency [...]