Will There be Another Lockdown?

COVID-19 numbers are skyrocketing - it's the highest the country has ever seen since the virus was first detected in Belize. Belizeans are alarmed and wondering what will happen next. The big question is: will we go into another lockdown? Minister Henry Charles Usher told News Five today that Cabinet continues to be advised by the COVID-19 Task Force, but that the country cannot afford to shut down or lock off as was done in the early months of the pandemic back in 2020.

Henry Charles Usher, P.U.P. Minister

"This omicron variant has really changed the ball game because it is so easily spread. Luckily, it seems that we are not seeing as severe cases as before with the other variants; certainly with Delta, we saw a lot of severe cases. We are not seeing that with omicron, but it is spreading. So we have to continue to practice the safety measures and that's what cabinet stressed on Tuesday. To make sure that we continue to have these regulations in place: wearing of masks, physical distancing, sanitization of offices, washing of hands and so on. It is important that these continue to be in place. We also have to balance that with the economy and we have to make sure that the economy remains open. We have to be safe, but we have to be open and we have to have people working. We see a number of government departments being closed down because of this, even the Ministry of Public Service. Unfortunately, we had a minor outbreak and we decided to close for a day last week to sanitize the office. Thankfully, none of our workers are with any severe illness right now."

Are Changes Coming in COVID-19 Regulations?

Given the COVID data, is cabinet planning to institute a new statutory instrument to adjust COVID-19 regulations? Still in effect is S.I. one-fifty-one of 2021, which in early December had changed the curfew so it begins at eleven p.m. from Sundays to Thursdays, and twelve midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. That S.I. expires on Saturday, January fifteenth. Minister Usher says not to expect any big adjustments in the near future, but keep practicing your protocols.

Henry Charles Usher, P.U.P. Minister

"The medical task force made a couple of recommendations - not in terms of lockdown or anything like that. But we know the omicron came here probably through the airport or some other port and so they are recommending that the tests that are done; that the testing period is less. So in terms of the P.C.R. testing, instead of ninety-six hours it's brought down to forty-eight hours; the rapid test, twenty-four hours so that we can have a better idea if that person is contagious or not. Recommendations like that are coming forward. But certainly, I haven't seen any recommendations having to do with any type of lockdown or so. But lockdown or not, we have to be safe, Duane; we have to practice our safe practices and we have to be healthier as a society as a country. Our people have to be healthier because if you combine healthy living with the vaccine, more than likely there is a very good chance you will be safe. We have to continue monitoring it. We hope that we can see a burnout of this virus - that it just goes through very fast, so fast that it burns itself out. We are seeing other countries in Europe that have already reached their peak. South Africa just made a declaration - this was the origin of the omicron - they have already passed their peak days and they are seeing declines in numbers now. So, we hope that we can reach that level as well without any fatalities of course."

Channel 5