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Guatemalan Minors Shot in Belize
Oct 20, 2014

Benque Police are investigating a very curious shooting which has left one Guatemalan minor injured and another likely dead. It happened at around four Sunday afternoon, when three minors from Melchor de Mencos crossed the border illegally to fish in the Mopan River near Clarissa Falls. One minor told Police that while fishing the trio heard four shots, and immediately after, he realized that he had been shot in the right thigh. A second minor was shot in the neck and fell into the Mopan River, while the third fled back to Melchor unhurt. The minor who was shot in the thigh is currently at the San Ignacio Hospital under Police guard. A search is currently being conducted in the area in an attempt to locate the second minor who was shot in the neck, but because the river is in flood, that job has been made more difficult. While there is speculation as to who fired the shots, the minor under guard has allegedly told Police that he believes that another Guatemalan followed them across the border and tried to kill them. A motive has not yet been ascertained, as the investigation is still in a very preliminary stage. We’ll have much more on this story in Tuesday’s newscast. 

Truck Driver Murdered in San Pedro
Oct 20, 2014

While police continue to search for the Guatemalan minor, who is presumed dead, the body of forty-four-year-old Samuel Dawson, a truck driver of Hattieville, was found in his San Pedro apartment early on Saturday. Dawson, who had been working at a construction site on the island since the beginning of October, was dropped off at his house by his supervisor sometime around seven o’clock on Friday night.  He reportedly asked the foreman to wait for him briefly as he wanted to purchase food from a nearby restaurant.  The supervisor then took him to the San Pedrito area.  The following morning when the supervisor returned for Dawson, he made a grisly discovery.  The worker had been stabbed twice to the neck and the lower lip.  During a press briefing on the island this afternoon, police say they are investigating the matter as a homicide.

Sgt. Lenancio Bol, San Pedro Police

Lenancio Bol

“About 7:40 a.m. on Saturday, October eighteenth, 2014, police visited residence in the San Pedrito area where they found the lifeless body of Samuel Dawson somewhere in the immediate area of the same house with what appears to be stab wounds to his neck and also a cut wound.”

Reporter

“In which position, how was he found in the room?  Was he in the bed?”

Sgt. Lenancio Bol

“He was on the floor facing up with what appeared to be a pool of blood.”

Reporter

“Any motives at this time?”

Sgt. Lenancio Bol

“The investigation is still young.  What we can tell you is that there was no forced entry into the building.  His wallet and other personal items were not found so we believe it was a robbery.  But at this time the investigation is still ongoing so there is much information that is coming at a later date.”

Reporter

“I understand that he was seen alive the day before with a co-worker.”

Sgt. Lenancio Bol

“He was taken home by one of his co-workers, a supervisor.  He was dropped off in the area of a Chinese shop in San Pedrito.  That’s the last time he was seen alive by that same co-worker.”

Reporter

“Any neighbors heard anything?”

Sgt. Lenancio Bol

“We had canvassed the area, spoken to a number of people but so far at this point the information is not forthcoming.”

Reporter

“I understand that someone had been brought in for questioning.”

Sgt. Lenancio Bol

“We have some suspects, we have some names and yes someone was brought in and the more people are being called they will be brought in as the investigators conclude what they are doing.”

The body of Dawson was taken to the San Pedro Polyclinic and pronounced dead on Saturday morning before being transported to the morgue at K.H.M.H. 

Another Man Shot in San Pedro Clings To Life at the K.H.M.H.
Oct 20, 2014

Ivan Aldana

Twenty-four-year-old Ivan Aldana is hospitalized at the K.H.M.H. after being shot in San Pedro on Sunday during an incident in which someone he is familiar with attacked him and fired as many as five shots at him.  Sometime after ten p.m., Aldana, who was socializing at Iguana Gardens Bar in San Pedrito, was accosted by an individual who opened fire on him.  Aldana was hit once in the upper right back and was rushed to the San Pedro Polyclinic.  The results of an X-ray would later indicate that a bullet was lodged in his spine.  Police on the island are looking for one suspect in connection with the weekend shooting.

Belize Prepares for Ebola
Oct 20, 2014

Marvin Manzanero

It has now been confirmed that a lab technician who was a passenger on the Carnival Magic cruise ship, has been cleared of the Ebola virus. Tests were done on her before the Carnival cruise ship was to arrive in Galveston, Texas.  The woman and her husband arrived in Belize on Thursday and the possibility of a threat of the deadly virus created panic nationwide. But all that was put to rest when the Carnival Magic sailed away on Thursday night and the passenger and her husband were not allowed to come onshore.  On Friday, Prime Minister Barrow held a press conference during which he detailed what transpired on Thursday after government was notified that the lab technician was onboard the cruise ship.  The woman, an employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, was believed to have handled specimen from deceased Ebola victim, Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas nineteen days earlier.  Despite her exposure to the deadly virus, the unnamed staffer embarked on a seven-night cruise of the Caribbean. While a three-way call between the Office of the Prime Minister, the U.S. State Department and the United States Embassy in Belize resulted in the PM’s refusal to have the pair medevaced from the Phillip Goldson International Airport, a private aircraft chartered to return them to the United States subsequently landed at the P.G.I.A.  The cruise line docked in Galveston on Sunday after also being refused to allow passengers to disembark in Cozumel, Mexico.  Aside from the refusal, a travel ban was placed on a number of countries in West Africa and today, a series of meetings were held with various government agencies in Belize City and Belmopan, including the Department of Civil Aviation and NEMO.

Via Phone: Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Interim Head, Epidemiology Unit, Ministry of Health

“We had already planned some activities that I can’t say were triggered by the events of last Thursday.  They were just activities that we had planned and were routinely carrying out.  Today we had some public health personnel from headquarters meeting at the airport.  Through the weekend we had two houses which would be a quarantine post within the airport and we have started using the questionnaires for people flying into the P.G.I.A.  On Friday we also had a training session for staff from the P.G.I.A. at all levels and this morning we had a major meeting with NEMO and key personnel from customs, immigration, BAHA, tourism, NEMO and the Ministry of Health to discuss where we are going to go in terms of Ebola and the ongoing preparations as a country.”

Isani Cayetano

“How did that meeting go, in terms of this multi-agency approach that is now being employed?”

Via Phone: Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“Well basically the reason why we met and we have been having discussions electronically and I think we had mentioned earlier that we had met with the NEMO person in charge, Col. Defoe from last month actually and we are trying streamline all our activities and I think one of the key elements that is communication, interagency communication to ensure that we are all on the same page.  One of the reasons why we met also is to give everybody that was at the table a brief description of how the Ebola epidemic looks in West Africa and the potential it has for the region.  And based on that we triggered off a discussion to see how we will vamp up our surveillance activities at all border entry points and what we would start doing internally in case we would have a suspected case of Ebola.”

MoH Prepares Infection Control Training Schedule
Oct 20, 2014

Marvin Manzanero

Important training sessions will continue throughout the week to further sensitize frontline workers on the dangers of Ebola.

Via Phone: Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Interim Head, Epidemiology Unit, Ministry of Health

“The activities will continue this Wednesday and Thursday, we are doing training sessions with the surveillance team from across the country and we hope that by the end of the week we should have a training schedule in terms of infection control and other activities.  And next week we have a major stakeholders meeting on the twenty-night to look at the international regulations on core capacities that Belize needs to further develop.”

The Ministry of Health, for the time being, has ordered seven hundred and fifty hazmat suits through PAHO.

Meanwhile, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize says that the Prime Minister’s decision not to allow the lab technician to be brought inland is laudable. The N.T.U.C.B. also says that Belize has to demand far more accountability from these cruise lines and calls on government to develop and implement health risks protocols. The unions also demand an apology from Carnival Cruise as well as the N.T.U.C.B. membership to employ prudent measures and rigid vigilance to ward off the possibility of an EBOLA outbreak.

G.O.B. Mum on U.S. State Department Diss
Oct 20, 2014

Marie Harf

As we reported on Friday, the U.S. State Department dissed Belize for not allowing the lab technician and her partner to be transported from the Carnival Magic to the P.G.I.A.  Belize was not the only one…Mexico also turned down a request and even Texans did not want the passengers to disembark; they only did when the lab technician was tested. During a CNN interview on Friday, Marie Harf, the Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, told Wolf Blitzer that the US is disappointed in Belize’s decision. Now, the government has not reacted to the incredible statement made in respect of a sovereign decision since Belize is clearly not in any position to handle an Ebola outbreak. And while the Prime Minister is being lauded for taking that decision, the remarks by the United States are considered arrogant and insensitive.  And as we said, government has not reacted, but we revisit that interview.

Wolf Blitzer

“There is a Carnival cruise ship now in the Caribbean, it asked to make a stop in Belize to drop off one hospital worker from Dallas [so] this person could be sent back to the United States because she was in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola.  Belize said no!  You can’t drop off this passenger there.  You deal with these foreign countries, what happened here?”

Marie Harf, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson

“Well again, as I said earlier today in the State Department’s press briefing, we’re disappointed by this.  We think it could have been handled differently.  Decisions like these need to be made based on information and science and not fear, even though we know this is a very serious disease, serious threat.  The ship is on its way back to Galveston, Texas right now.  It is expected to dock on Sunday and obviously we’ll be giving any care to this individual that is needed and we’ll keep having the conversations with countries if something like this arises again.”

Wolf Blitzer

“So Belize said no.  [Did] Mexico say no too?”

Marie Harf

“Well the Mexican government actually had indicated a willingness too.  There was some discussion among local authorities and national authorities but regardless of that the ship is on its way back to the U.S. and going forward, when cases like this arise we will have discussions with these governments about what they can do, what we can do, really based again on the facts here and how we can contain this in a safe way.”

Wolf Blitzer

“But I think it’s safe to say that the State Department, and you speak for the State Department, is disappointed not only in Belize but also in Mexico.”

Marie Harf

“I think when it comes to Belize we made clear that this could have and should have been handled differently in our view.  With Mexico I think it’s a little more complicated, they did indicate some willingness to let the ship dock there.  What we’re focused on now is going forward, not just any one case but how we can all come together to really put the world’s efforts behind fighting this.”

On Friday, the prime minister did say that he did not expect any repercussions, but we will see how all this will play out.