SARS and nationalities

Posted By: Diane Campbell

SARS and nationalities - 04/25/03 04:02 PM

The Government of Belize faced a very difficult decision when imposing visa/travel restrictions related to SARS. I don't envy the individuals who were given the task of coming up with a plan.

This ban affects the local population in many ways, and is not restricted to empty beds in hotels.

People from India and other parts of Asia are a very important part of the population of Belize. There are are thousands of Belizeans who are of East Indian and Asian decent (many many more than those of US or Canadian origins). Many of them are immigrants, and for them the thought of a relative not being able to come "home to Belize" or travel abroad to visit an elderly relative is a very serious concern.

Tourism is obviously a very important part of the Belizean economy. Banning entry to any large number of holiday travelers is a difficult thing - but far worse would be seeing our population infected by SARS and having ALL travel to the country cease as a result.

With SARS, a 10-day incubation period (and probably a shorter infectious period)means that the virus needs to travel fast in order to spread. Under these conditions, it is more likely that affluent/frequent world travelers will be the ones carrying the disease to new places. Remember AIDS - "Patient Zero" was a flight attendant from Quebec.

With visions of good health to all ........
Posted By: Miss Anthropy

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/25/03 04:48 PM

Diane, it is inflamatory to invoke the dreaded AIDS scenario in reference to this SARS situation. They have not even developed a diagnostic test for this so-called singular coronavirus. Many people with regular flu or even colds are being quarantined out of FEAR, not science. I realize you intend to inform people, but even mild fearmongering is really not the answer.
Posted By: Chloe

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/25/03 05:05 PM

Diane, your take on things are always appreciated by many of us. You do have a good understanding of things in general, and how those things apply to Belize/Ambergris. Thank you for posting.
Posted By: Miss Anthropy

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/25/03 05:18 PM

Please don't get me wrong Chloe or Diane, I too appreciate Diane sharing her experience and information with us, she certainly has been around for a while and knows Belize as well as any Gringo can. I would just hate to see Belize's economy and tourist industry needlessly suffer from all of this SARS stuff. Canada is really suffering now. And who will be next based upon something that has not even been scientifically proven? I just ask that we all take the responsibility to check out all of the facts, governments included, before making sweeping determinations about something that has the ability to ruin major industries and economies in every country (airline, tourism, personal freedom to travel to see family, commerce generally).
Posted By: Miss Anthropy

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/25/03 05:38 PM

This link seems to have an abundance of information including local media coverage and some credible medical and governmental personnel's reports.
Maybe the more we a look into this the better chance we have to inform each other about this important situation.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/25/03 08:58 PM

Sorry if my reference to AIDS was interpreted as an attempt to scare/panic. I lived for over a decade in the heart of the AIDS epidemic in California. I knowingly hired folks with the condtion, and lived closely with people who both lived and died with AIDS. I'm so used to it I don't see the name and feel frightened, and I overlooked that others do not share that view.
Indeed - education and information are the beginning of good heath and disease prevention.
Patient Zero was noted only because it was a fascinating study, and one that was able to take a big epidemic and trace it back to a local vector. In the case of Patient Zero, some of the lessons were that affluence does not provide an invisible shield, and that disease prevention is everbodys job.
Posted By: seashell

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/25/03 09:10 PM

I thought I read the other day that they've identified the person they believe to have been patient zero in the SARS situation as well.
Quite amazing really.
Posted By: Miss Anthropy

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/25/03 10:10 PM

Seashell, I think that link i referenced has a couple of reports about the patient zero.
Posted By: Chris

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/26/03 03:41 AM

Let me see....China, the country with by far the most cases of SARS, and India, curiously a country with hardly any, (but both on Belize's "banned" list) have a combined population of about 2.3 Billion. Belize has about 300,000. Worldwide there have been a little less (as of 1 hour ago) than 5000 cases of SARS. About 6% have died. Using those same proportions, Belize would have to have just 0.8 of a case of SARS to be as infected as China and India combined even giving them "credit" for every worldwide case of the disease.

So, by the Government of Belize's strange and wobbly accounting standards, if Belize gets its first FULL case of SARS - rather than our imaginary fraction of a case - stand by for ALL other countries to ban travel to Belize because we will then be the most infected country on the planet based on population and infected percentage.

My take on SARS: there have been MUCH worse Flu epidemics than this....outbreaks that have killed tens of thousands. Yes, SARS a nasty thing, but the level of panic is outrageous when one considers that during the period that SARS has claimed its approximately 300 fatalities (mostly the old and frail) THOUSANDS worldwise will have died from AIDS, tobacco, drugs, heart disease, cancer, motor vehicle accidents etc. etc, and MANY of those will have been young people who thought their whole lives were ahead of them.

You don't see the WHO or Government of Belize telling people they shouldn't drive, do you?

Come to think of it, we are used to "strange and wobbly" accounting from our elected officials here in Belize!
Posted By: Short

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/26/03 08:06 AM

Yes and no;

Yes, there is a new virus of which the cases are relatively few, and yes our government wants to play too badly an international roll to show off nationally, and yes, it is probably too early to come to conclusions, but....

I am impressed with the way the world reacts to a lethal virus in such an early stage. Remember the Spanish flew, early 20th century which wiped out one quarter of the world population? Think about the king who wanted to reward the inventor of the chess board: 1 grain on the first square, 2 on the second, 4 on the third...... 9,223,372,036,854,780,000 on the 64th.

Posted By: susangg

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/26/03 11:27 PM

As anyone who is not brain dead (which may exclude certain pols) must know, there is ZERO logical relationship between where one holds citizenship and the risk that you are a carrier of SARS. The issue is not where you hold citizenship but where you have recently lived and/or traveled.
Canada is a huge country. The SARS outbreak there is directly linked to a group of people who traveled from Asia and landed in Toronto. Everyone who has gotten sick is either one of those travelers, a health care provider, or a family member or close associate of one of those travelers (or of one of the foregoing.)
Only one person has been diagnosed with SARS in India (and I believe that was a presumptive diagnosis, not clear that it was ever confirmed.)
There is no logic in banning tourists with Canadian or Indian passports. None.
Posted By: sarahsmile

Re: SARS and nationalities - 04/28/03 02:30 AM

I know that people in Belize are more concerned about SARS than about AIDS. I was working with a volunteer Red Cross group who requested that I get them info on SARS so that they could be informed since they FEEL that they are at great risk for an outbreak. I have not really paid much attention to SARS as of yet but I know my sister lives just across the boarder (in the US) outside of Toronto and everyone there is on high alert with concern. I guess prevention is good but I dont know about banning whole countries.
Posted By: susangg

Re: SARS and nationalities - 05/01/03 04:45 PM

By all reliable accounts, Belize is suffering from serious epidemics of severe injury and death by traffic accident, street violence and domestic violence. The reported incidents of these occurrences are so great that if they were a virus, we would be speaking of plague.
Yet I do not see any signs of a mobilization to defeat these public health menaces. I guess its because these are REAl dangers, right here, right now, and they are things that something CAN be done to at least alleviate if not completely "cure."
It is so much easier to look like you are "doing something" to fix that which is not broken than to actually start fixing that which is....
(Needless to say, Belize is by no means unique either as to the above public health issues or its failure to deal with them with them...but you get the point.....)
Posted By: Short

Re: SARS and nationalities - 05/03/03 07:13 AM

C'mon, the scary thing is that the disease spreads like a flew, and there is no vaccin. It's good to take measures or at least think about it.

You can avoid AIDS by having safe sex, and the other Belize epidemics of Susangg by staying out of trouble.... did you know that probably most people in Belize die in bed? - avoid the bed too!
Posted By: Sandcrab

Re: SARS and nationalities - 05/03/03 05:00 PM


I find myself totally in agreement. I live in Toronto and we don't walk around with masks on unless we are in a hospital. We carry on normal living. Most people die in hospitals.

Ralph Fonseca made a stupid call on banning all Canadians from Belize. It was overkill which could only be called grandstanding, and nothing else.

If you haven't all heard the WHO has reversed their decision to ban travel to Toronto (not Canada as there never was one). This occurred 2 days ago. I find that the pronouncement by Fonseca is nothing short of tourism suicide.

Hey Ralph, the hospital just called. Your br...

Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: SARS and nationalities - 05/05/03 07:15 PM

Just FYI - to Sandcrab - Fonseca did NOT ban all Canadians from Belize !!!

Canadians don't need visas to come to Belize.

Fonseca temporarily suspended issuing VISAs to several categories of people. One category was individuals who reside in Canada, who hold a passport from a country that NORMALLY needs a visa to enter Belize (which means they are NOT Canadians). Those who apply for a NEW visa will be told that issuance of new visas is temporarily suspended. Old visas are being honored.

This post is not intended to express an opinion for or against the policy itself, but merely to correct a major misunderstanding of the current circumstances for Canadian nationals traveling to Belize.
Posted By: Sandcrab

Re: SARS and nationalities - 05/06/03 10:32 PM


I have followed your endeavours in Belize with much interest and admiration for your ability to succeed in everything you try. I have read many an article written by you as guidance for the tyro who enters the world of Belize business and especially real estate investment. In other words I am an admirer and that is why I am going to try to answer the problem with the way the "ban" was instituted.

Thank you for pointing out the visa issue, but I was totally aware that it did not involve every one in Canada, not Canadian citizens, but landed immigrants living in Canada. What irritates every Canadian who read that original ban is that RF banned any Canadian who was a landed immigrant and would have originally come from a country which required a visa, and lived anywhere in Canada.

What in heavens name would he ban visas for landed immigrants who live in Edmonton, Winnepeg, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax, Montreal, Regina, Inuvik, etc., when there was no mention of anywhere in Canada by the WHO advisory other than the City of Toronto.

In any case, the security and health checks that were instituted at Toronto International Airport were so severe that anyone with even the slightest chance of showing any symptom of the SARS disease was stopped dead in his tracks and refused boarding of any aircraft.

I'm afraid Diane, that it was not well thought out and may cause a great many Canadians to review their travel plans because it was poorly thought out.

Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: SARS and nationalities - 05/07/03 05:00 PM

Hi Sandcrab - Thanks for the nice words.

My e-mail to you was about one thing only - it was to correct your statement about "Fonseca .......banning ALL Candians". My comment was not about the wisdom or folly of such a decision, but rather to clarify what in fact the decision was. I think we have done that now ......

Lastly .......... the ban on issuing visas to individuals with Indian passports and/or Indians with Canadian residency has been cancelled.

Pack your bags and come down for a day in the sun !
Posted By: Sandcrab

Re: SARS and nationalities - 05/07/03 05:05 PM

Thanks Diane,

I have been thinking of doing just that for some time now.

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