Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Lockdown lifted; first passenger boats leave island amidst threat of possible Hurricane Nana


Tropical Storm Nana draws closer to Belize with the potential to land as a hurricane, and with the National State of Emergency lifted in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, two passenger boats took over 100 residents off the island on Tuesday, September 1st. Some of the passengers had been stranded on the island during the lockdown, while others are seeking safety from the tropical storm. They were screened before boarding the boat and their information was recorded for the purpose of contact tracing in the event they become infected with COVID-19.

The first passenger boat left shortly after 11:30AM, followed by the second at 3:30PM from Municipal Dock from where San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi Company operates. Police and health officials made their presence known, ensuring social distancing and that everyone was wearing a mask. Each passenger’s temperature was checked before getting their tickets and boarding the vessel. Their vital information was written down in order to know where they are going and to be able to contact them in case health authorities may need to.

Some passengers shared that they were heading to the Cayo and Orange Districts, where they hope to be safe from the incoming inclement weather. Others took the opportunity to leave the island, after being jobless for months, and head back home where they can be with their family.

Dr. Javier Canul from the Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II shared with The San Pedro Sun that the screening at the dock is important to ensure that no one is sick with the virus when leaving the island. Persons that are quarantined or are awaiting their COVID-19 results, should not travel either. Canul added that they are planning to have personnel at the dock every time a boat leaves to make sure no one with the illness gets on the boat. If a passenger’s temperature is higher than normal, he would not be allowed to leave or come into the island. The person would be subject to swabbing and placed on quarantine until it can be verified if he or she is infected with the COVID-19.

According to Canul, screening should also take place in Belize City to better control the traffic of persons between the island and the mainland. Canul added that they are looking at screening passengers when they return to the island, to make sure no one travels to San Pedro with the disease. It has been almost a month since a passenger boat left the island. San Pedro had been on a lockdown following a spike in COVID-19 since August 7th, but after a slight decrease, it was lifted on Tuesday, September 1st.

When traveling off the island, passengers are reminded to practice social distancing and to wear their masks at all times while in the vessel. San Pedro Belize Express looks forward to providing daily runs between San Pedro and Belize City, and asks its clients to adhere to all health and safety measures required by the Ministry of Health.

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