BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Thursday, 19 August 2021:  The Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations (MTDR) and the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), with the guidance of the Cruise Tourism Task Force, have established Health and Safety Protocols for the Safe Restart of Cruise Operations in Belize.  The document outlines the process for preventing and managing COVID-19 positive cases upon restart of cruise ship activities in Belize and includes protocols for the transfer of any passenger from a ship in the case of a medical emergency.

In this regard, the MTDR and BTB, on behalf of the Cruise Task Force, seek to provide the following clarification to the public. An Emergency Medical Transfer is a standard procedure that all international ships and ports have had in place, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. When a cargo ship or a cruise ship has an ill patient on board that requires medical care beyond the capacity of the onboard health services, ships have the option to request an Emergency Medical Transfer for the patient. This process allows the patient to seek health care at a local facility, and the request is made with the local health authorities – in the case of Belize, the Ministry of Health and Wellness. A determination is made on the gravity of the patient’s status, and whether the best course of action is for the patient to be accepted into one of the country’s medical facilities.

A recent passenger onboard a Carnival ship presented health difficulties due to COVID-19. Based on these protocols, the passenger was allowed to disembark to receive the urgent care required and was subsequently medically evacuated via air ambulance. Since the 2021 resumption of cruise tourism, this request is the only Emergency Medical Transfer request received from a cruise line due to COVID-19 complications, and all established protocols were followed. Carnival followed all protocols and continued to support the disembarked guest and family through their eventual return to the U.S.  The Government of Belize assures the general public that cruise lines are following very strict protocols and cannot transfer any COVID-19 positive passenger without prior expressed approval by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Mindful of the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Belize, the Belize Tourism Board, port managers, cruise lines and their agents in Belize, continue to work ardently to ensure that the cruise industry in Belize maintains the highest level of safety and security for our guests, for the crew and for all Belizeans. The cruise lines calling on Belize have been fully cooperative and compliant with all local laws and guidelines, have met all reporting requirements, and have satisfied all local standards for guests to disembark for tourism purposes.  Furthermore, cruise line vaccine, testing and mask protocols have demonstrated their exceptional commitment to the public health status of the citizens of Belize.

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