Posted: Monday, December 27, 2021. 2:51 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: “And now, the end is near/And so I face the final curtain/My friends, I’ll say it clear/I’ll state my case of which I’m certain/I’ve lived a life that’s full/I traveled each and every highway/But more, much more than this/I did it my way…” (Frank Sinatra, “My Way” – lyrics by Paul Anka)
Welcome to our look back at the most significant news stories, breaking and otherwise, that Breaking Belize News covered in 2021. It was a year of change, of transition, of hope and heartbreak. For the year that was (as of this writing), we wrote a total of 9,284 stories, an average of 774 per month, many about issues that mattered most to you, our readers. We invite you to journey with us one more time through an eventful year, as we recap the stories that made you happy, made you sad, made you concerned, made you mad, and most importantly, made you care.
I. Health and COVID-19
The number of entries in our archives for COVID-19 is approaching 5,500 as of this writing, as it continues to be the dominant story of the year and indeed our time.
At the end of 2020, the alpha version of the virus appeared to be in retreat, and Belizeans were looking forward to an early end of the pandemic here. But as happened multiple times in the course of 2021, our hopes were dashed, this time by the appearance of multiple variants of the virus with their own deadly characteristics.
In April, a little more than a year after COVID first reached our shores, there was a day with zero new cases, zero new deaths and only one person hospitalized for the virus – April 9 to be precise. Belize had recorded 12,487 confirmed cases and 318 deaths overall to that point and vaccination had begun of frontline workers, older persons and other classes.
But a second assault began, fronted by the stronger, faster Delta variant. May’s record low in cases and deaths (141 and 1) had exploded to 4,412 cases and 25 deaths for August; 6,348 cases and 52 deaths for September; 7,068 cases and 81 deaths in October; and 3,282 cases and 83 deaths in November as the Delta assault finally began to ease.
As of today, overall, we have confirmed 31,503 cases of Covid infection from 362,407 persons tested, and 592 total deaths as we begin to brace for Omicron.
With the arrival of vaccines came the anti-vaccine movement, a catch-all grouping of individuals appealing to fear and gullibility that began publicly challenging the hegemony of the Briceno administration in promoting vaccinations. The Government had its own missteps – walking back mandates for vaccination among public officers after outcry; maintaining a curfew that has become increasingly criticized as ineffective despite the recent lowering of cases; and internal disputes costing such senior advisers as Dr Fernando Cuellar and Dr Marvin Manzanero, the former resigning from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Board and the latter forced out as Director of Health Services.
The country is now braced for Omicron, with about half the population fully vaccinated, a proportion of that boosted, and improved testing, treatment protocols, and therapies, including the use of monoclonal antibodies and the antiviral Molnupiravir at private hospitals.
But it is also weary of infection, disease and death, a world moving, yet stagnant; a nation on pause, yet hopeful. Here’s hoping 2022 is more an end to the pandemic than another beginning.
(Note: Our thanks to colleague Glenn Tillett for providing the statistics used in this report).
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