By Aaron Humes: The Ministry of Health and Wellness says at this point, there is no recommendation to mandate the wearing of masks in public according to Director of Public Health and Wellness Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa.
Cases are expected to plateau in the next few weeks pending any increase due to Omicron BA.4 and .5 sub-variants.
But personal responsibility is still paramount as she explained: “We are encouraging persons, especially in crowded, indoor spaces, to take on the responsibility and wear your mask; because it’s in crowded spaces that you tend to get infected if someone sneezes, if someone starts to cough and they don’t have on their mask, you need to make sure that you have on your mask.”
Those who are especially vulnerable – pregnant women, immunosuppressed individuals and persons with complications including cancer, hypertension and diabetes – are advised to avoid such spaces and persons they know are sick. Early testing is also encouraged to identify and isolate new cases and prevent spread.
On the issue of vaccines, Dr. Diaz-Musa stated that Belize has been fortunate to have support from the Pan American/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and other NGOs as well as fellow countries to identify vaccines specifically authorized for emergency use to blunt specific sub-variants of the virus. But the vaccines issued in the last eighteen months, she maintained, are still effective in fighting off the viral load of COVID-19 and preventing its severity.
3 percent of all original COVID-19 virus cases resulted in deaths, Dr. Diaz-Musa noted; with the arrival of vaccines and the Delta variants, death percentages fell to 1 percent, and since January of 2022 and the Omicron variants’ advent, deaths are down to just 0.24 percent of all cases.
With schools out for the summer, a potential source of crowds and gatherings is removed for now but the re-opening of schools to full-time learning in September depends on the situation at that time with sub-variants, and schools have established strict procedures to control spread.
Belize has passed 65,500 total cases with 680 deaths.