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Ministry of Health says plan social events carefully amid resurgent COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted: Monday, May 23, 2022. 9:22 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: This coming weekend’s National Agriculture and Trade Show is expected to kick off a summer’s worth of activity countrywide as Belize shakes off more than two years of COVID-19-related lethargy.

So, this would be absolutely the worst time to see a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic – but over the last few weeks, that’s exactly what has been happening, with more than 600 active cases going into this past weekend countrywide.

Director of Public Health and Wellness Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa told Channel 5 News that no consideration is being given at this time to reinstate certain COVID-19 measures that have been relaxed. So, social gatherings and public events are still being permitted as scheduled.

Notwithstanding, Dr Diaz-Musa recommends that event planners carry out their activities in a responsible manner, so as to sustain the health and economy of the country. “For event planners, our recommendations are outdoor, big large spaces, limited crowds, and if possible, hand sanitizing. Still have some measures in place that can control the spread. We know if you are outdoors the spread is less likely than if you are in an air-conditioned room and the room is very tight and everybody is sitting very close together. We have seen in the past that almost ninety percent of persons in that environment get infected. Whereas, if you have an outdoor thing in your yard, lots of space, tables are spaced out, the spread is not as much.”

Masks are advised in closed, air-conditioned, and tight spaces, and avoid attending any function where there is a risk of exposure to someone already sick or isolating.

Former COVID-19 patient and internist at Belize Medical Associates, Dr. Fernando Cuellar, explains that the new variant is of higher transmissibility than previous variants, but that unless you have underlying conditions which increase the risk, you are not likely to be hospitalized and/or die as a result of contracting this version of COVID.

Dr. Cuellar further notes, “Interestingly the symptoms of this variant are different from the ones we came across last year and the year before. This one seems to affect more of the upper respiratory tract and gives you a bad flu kind of thing. So, you get a congested, runny nose, sore throat, headache, and joint pains, as opposed to developing shortness of breath and the lower respiratory tract involved. This one seems to affect your upper respiratory tract. I think we have learned to maneuver the whole workplace scenario. If you get sick you call in and I haven’t seen any big controversy starting from any place of employment.”

Dr. Cuellar reinforced the need for personal responsibility and said any suggestion of lockdown would wipe away all the economic gains we have made since the bad old days.

In the end, he stated, “I bet you…that we will be talking about COVID in 2023. It will not go away. We have to live with it and hopefully protect ourselves with boosters and vaccines.”

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