As we expected, we received a notification about swine flu from the BTB. This is a copy of our email:
From the Belize Tourism Board, April 29th. 6:00 p.m.
SWINE FLU UPDDATE
The occurrence of swine flu in Mexico and several countries throughout the world has raised concerns for travelers and our businesses in regards to the prevention of transmissions and the impact on travel plans. As this situation is rapidly evolving you are urged to keep updated on the worldwide and local situation.
The Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture and the Belize Tourism Board have not been advised of any confirmed cases in Belize and maintain contact with our local health authorities to closely monitor any new developments. We will share with you any information that is forthcoming and have included helpful resources at the end of this message including a link to the Belize Ministry of Health website at - http://www.health.gov.bz/moh/
Please be advised of the following, excerpted from April 29th releases from the Belize Ministry of Health:
It has been reiterated that the closing of borders is not recommended as it is not recommended by International Health Regulations. Surveillance and screening of visitors at the northern and western border continues. Surveillance and screening at the Phillip Goldson International Airport will begin on Thursday, April 30th.
Any sick person on board a vessel (including a cruise ship) will not be allowed to leave the ship and come on onshore.
A meeting with stakeholders took place on April 27, 2009 to discuss the multi-sectoral approach in responding to the potential introduction of Swine Flu. Participants included:
Office of the Director of Health Services, Ministry of Health
National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO)
Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA)
Regional Health Managers of the Ministry of Health
Ministry of Education
Cuban Medical Brigade Coordination
The Ministry of Health has established a Hot Line for the public from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm. the number is 629-5604 and will be handled by Nurse Augustina Eligio, stationed at MOH HQ.
With the underlying principle of preventing any potential transmission of Swine Flu in the country of Belize, the Ministry of Health through the Director of Health Services, in accordance with Section 83 of the Public Health Act, has issued a directive to postpone all major public gatherings until further notice. This includes the following events:
The Annual General Meeting of the Holy Redeemer Credit Union Belize City
Morgan Heritage Musical Concert, Belize City
The University of Belize Fundraising Event – Spring Fling 2009, Belmopan
National Agriculture and Trade Show,Belmopan
Cashew Fest, Crooked Tree
Hermanos Ponce Circus, Belize City
- End of Ministry of Health release -
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
From The World Health Organization(WHO)
WHO advises no restriction of regular travel or closure of borders.
It is considered prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention, in line with guidance from national authorities.
There is also no risk of infection from this virus from consumption of well-cooked pork and pork products.
For Tourism Businesses:
Ensure a high level of sanitation in your property to minimize the spread of any infection. Health experts recommend frequent hand washing and use of alcohol-based hand cleaners. Cover your nose or mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread in this manner.
Any employee who exhibits flu symptoms should stay at home, minimizing contact with others. If flu symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical treatment.
Maintain a level of concern, not panic. At this point there is no reason to discourage people from traveling to or within Belize.
Individuals should be encouraged to take common sense steps to protect themselves including maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle with adequate sleep, proper nutrition, controlling stress and maintaining physical fitness.
For individuals - Take everyday actions to stay healthy.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Stay home if you get sick. Stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
Develop a family emergency plan as a precaution. This should include storing a supply of food, medicines, facemasks, alcohol-based hand rubs and other essential supplies.
Belize Ministry of Health - http://www.health.gov.bz/moh/
The World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/en/
The Center for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/