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Minister of Health: “Great strides” made, more work to do

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Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2021. 1:22 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Minister of Health and Wellness, Michel Chebat, says that the work done so far under his tenure by the health and security authorities has seen “great strides made” in curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Belize.

But while he offered kudos to acting Director of Health Services, Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, the Ministry’s task force team, the security forces and the cooperative general public for their “incredible job,” leading to Friday’s loosening of restrictions, he reminded that a recurrence of “misbehaviour” corresponding with an increase in cases will lead to strict measures to counteract.

Minister Chebat observed that, “Since expanding our testing, we have seen a decreasing number of cases, but at the same time we have seen a decreasing number of persons accessing our testing services. This may be a reflection of the containment of the outbreak, but we can only be certain of this if we reach out to more people, and consistently get less than five percent positivity rate for two incubation periods, or 28 days.”

The Ministry has thus begun testing at high-risk institutions, those with employees with a greater level of public interaction: Government ministries and departments; elderly care institutions, camps of the Belize Defence Force, banks, call centers, supermarkets and even media houses.

“Shortly, we shall also be knocking on your doors; we will be going house to house to make sure that we identify all of our citizens that may be afflicted by this virus,” the Minister added as he reminded of the importance of mask-wearing, social distancing and not congregating in greater than groups of ten.

It is important not to let our guard down, Minister Chebat continued, as he lauded a halving in positivity rate between December 13 and January 23. Belize District fell from 1,073 active cases to 348; Cayo District, 983 to 273; Corozal, 492 to 62; Orange Walk, 625 to 66; Stann Creek, 452 to 128; and Toledo, 368 to 152.

The Minister added that Belize must prepare for the inevitable “third wave” coming our way, and is in bilateral discussions to access other sources of vaccines, as we wait for the COVAX facility to come through in March or April. Do not be afraid to be tested, he concluded, and to do our part in further halting the spread of the virus.

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