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Belizean doctors help write the book on COVID-19

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covid19 belize book

Posted: Friday, July 30, 2021. 7:58 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: “The COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons from the Frontline” is the first of what may be many attempts to chronicle the brave new world we have collectively experienced since January of 2020.

And it has a Belizean flavor, as head of the COVID-19 Unit and Intensive Care Unit at Belize Healthcare Partners Limited Dr. Jorge Hidalgo is co-editor along with Puerto Rico-based Gloria Rodriguez-Vega and Miami-based Javier Perez Fernandez.

Other Belizean-based contributors include Dr. Natalia Beer, maternal and child health expert drafted into the COVID task force.

At a public launch today, Dr. Hidalgo expressed that the book covers a world’s worth of experience: “Of course, one of the most important is the opinion on our country, what is happening in Belize. We decided to have an opinion from people in Brazil. We have leaders from Brazil. Brazil, as everybody knows what they went through with the pandemic. We have the opinion also from leaders of the Middle East, and see how they face the pandemic. From India, a little to comment on what is the overall situation and the future of the pandemic, what to expect. Also, we have other important points like how the young generation faced the pandemic. We have the millennial opinion. What happened with them and how they felt during the pandemic. How their lives changed dramatically going to online schools. To mention that, we have the opinion of a patient; the patient from the initial start. And, the other part that we thought was really important is to have something on what we do in terms of a surge, what are the different steps that are recommended in case of a surge, how the health system should respond.”

Dr. Hidalgo told us that the book attempts to answer those skeptical of the origin and movement of COVID-19 with scientific facts and data and how it has so far been able to evade eradication. Indeed, he repeated that we need to start to learn to live with the virus and protect ourselves by vaccination and safe cleansing habits.

Another contributor, former director of the Central Information Technology Office (CITO) Michael Singh, contributed experiences of governments combating the disease, including Belize’s. What many saw as confusion in the early days of the pandemic was really a Government “reaction to the realities of what we have to deal with. And, often the public does not know what those realities are. Things like scarcity of equipment, scarcity of supplies, and scarcity of the ability to be able to have security forces to be able to police some of the policies we put in place. There are so many issues that impacted the decisions we made every day. It is very difficult for anyone that is not in the boiler room at the time to be able to understand what those realities were.”

Singh said he realized early on that the medically-based COVID-19 task force supervised by an Oversight Committee co-chaired by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Leader of the Opposition John Briceno would quickly need to become more broad-based, for as it turned out, the biggest impacts from COVID-19 were on the economy and society and not just health.

He mentioned two key lessons for future scenarios: harnessing the power of public opinion, referring to the current vaccine showdown, and being able to be flexible in the face of the enemy.

The book is available on Amazon and internationally.

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