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Ministry of Health monitors international alerts regarding coronavirus

Posted: Tuesday, January 21, 2020. 9:21 am CST.

By BBN Staff: The Ministry of Health has issued a statement informing all Belizeans that it is aware and is monitoring the international alerts in relation to a new strain of coronavirus that has been linked to severe cases of respiratory tract infections.

The virus, which has seemingly originated in central China has now spread to at least 3 other countries, and is being transmitted through human to human contact.

“As with all new viruses and infections, we will be guided by the international alerts and in line with International Health Regulations. For now, we remain in close communication with our regional partners and we will be updating any information as may be required,” the Ministry said.

The Ministry informed that the usual measures and precautions for the prevention of the flu virus ought to be exercised at all levels as we are in the middle of our flu season.

The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. 

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

On December 31, 2019, the World Heath Organization (WHO) China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China.

A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the causative virus by Chinese authorities on 7 January.

On 10 January, WHO published a range of interim guidance for all countries on how they can prepare for this virus, including how to monitor for sick people, test samples, treat patients, control infection in health centres, maintain the right supplies, and communicate with the public about this new virus.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) also issued an advisory on January 17, 2020 recommending that health care workers have access to up to date information on the illness, be familiar with the principles and procedures for handling nCoV infections, and be trained to inquire about a patient’s travel history in order to connect this information with clinical data.

PAHO/WHO encourage member states to strengthen surveillance activities to detect any unusual respiratory health event and will closely monitor the epidemiological evolution of the situation, providing more detailed guidance when available.

PAHO/WHO does not recommend any screening at entry points regarding this event, nor any restrictions on travel or trade.


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