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Omicron: Transmission is primary concern, says Ministry of Health and Wellness

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Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2021. 3:47 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: “We should not play with Omicron,” the Ministry of Health and Wellness warned in a press call despite Delta variant being the number one variant of concern in Belize.

Results from tests for the new variant are expected sometime next week, but there is already evidence that it is here, according to Dr. Natalia Beer, Maternal and Child Health Technical Advisor.

The most obvious is the recent rise in cases, although that has not affected to present the number of hospitalizations and persons in intensive care.

But initial studies have indicated that while Omicron infects individuals and transmits much faster than Delta – five persons every ten days compared to two on average – it appears to have a lower rate of bronchial infection and the percentage of persons needing hospitalizations is approximately 31 to 45 percent less.

Dr. Beer said the Ministry is procuring more tests in expectation of an onslaught of cases, but the protocol for treating cases and addressing the pandemic remains the same: get tested, isolate if required, submit to contract tracing, and provide support. But if the public does not do its part, she said, then it will not do any good, especially for those who may be asymptomatic and feeling fine, yet still able to transmit the virus if they do not adhere to the public health regulations.

Dr. Beer cited the case of the testing center at the Belize Civic Center where a majority of those tested positive were either asymptomatic or reporting minor symptoms such as fever and coughing.

And if necessary, Dr. Beer said, there would be a return to heightened measures if the numbers justify it, for instance, keeping the land borders closed for another month.

More on this developing story later.

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