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“Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in Belize not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when,'” says Ministry of Health

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Posted: Friday, February 14, 2020. 3:22 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Yesterday, the Ministry of Health held a press conference to update the nation on what is happening globally with the outbreak of the new coronavirus strain dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as an update on the work being done locally to prepare.

Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero explained that as the virus continues to spread globally, it’s arrival in Belize is inevitable, but knowing that fact and understanding how to deal with it can prevent mass panic.

“We need to bridge that gap of getting people the right information from our end is the reason we are having this press conference…” Manzanero said. “We have to understand that COVID-19 is here to stay, I don’t know when it is going to come to Belize. If it does, it’s going to spread everywhere and if  it may not be in this flu season, it might be in the next flu season…”

He added that the WHO has a global influenza plan 2019-2030 because it is predicting that there will be a global influenza pandemic that will present a higher mortality rate than COVID-19 is currently displaying.

Dr. Russel Manzanero, Epidemiologist at the MOH, has noted that Belize has around 80 deaths from other flu virus strains in Belize annually, with over 70 percent of those deaths being people over 65 years old with other underlying health conditions. Lorna Perez, monitoring officer with the MOH said that processes are set in place to have suspected cases of COVID_19 tested and the samples sent out to Miami for testing. Meanwhile, the MOH has one officer doing training in Mexico who is being trained in identifying cases of COVID-19, that officer is expected to be back in-country by next weekend.

The MOH hopes that with the officer’s training and some medical supplies coming into the country, the ministry will be able to test for COVID-19 in Belize in the upcoming weeks. Monitoring efforts are ongoing and people coming into the country border entry points are being heavily scrutinized for the remainder of the global alert for COVID-19. Currently, the MOH’s data suggests that no cases have been imported into the country as yet.

 

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