BELMOPAN, Belize – Belize health authorities have confirmed that the CARICOM country is facing a new a new wave of COVID-19 infections with more than 600 active cases being reported.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness said that the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant is the most dominant strain in Belize and that it is now increasing its surveillance measures in business and other public places in order to identify and isolate positive cases early, particularly in the Belize and Cayo Districts where the infection rates are the highest.
“We do have areas in country where we are seeing more positive cases. Like other waves it is very similar. The district of Belize has the highest number of positive cases as well as the highest in regards to positivity rate a well, followed behind by Cayo. And then in the other districts, we are not seeing the positivity rates we saw in the other waves,” said Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, Director of Public Health and Wellness.
“So, we are focused primarily on the Belize District, looking at the significant number of positive cases coming out of the Belize District. The Ministry of Health and Wellness, we have now embarked on enhanced surveillance. Enhanced surveillance simply means we are not sitting down at the clinics waiting for sick people to come in.
“We have restarted to go back into the community, public places, whoever calls us we go in and we do what we call a sweep. We swab as many persons who would like to be swabbed. This helps us enhance surveillance which always helps us to detect cases early. If we detect cases early we isolate cases early. Of course, that helps with the containment of spread and the reduction of transmission of disease.”
Dr. Diaz-Musa said that consideration is being given at this time to reinstate certain COVID-19 measures that have been relaxed as the country gears up for the National Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds in seven days which is expected to draw a large crowd.
In addition, Lobster Fest is scheduled immediately after, followed by Carnival in September. Notwithstanding, Dr. Musa recommends that event planners carry out their activities in a responsible manner, so as to sustain the health and economy of the country, while offering some recommendations.
“For event planners, our recommendations is out door, big large spaces, limited crowds if possible, hand sanitizing. Still have some measures in place that can control 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 90 percent of persons in that environment get infected. Whereas, if you have an outdoor something in your hard, lots of space, tables are spaced out, the spread was not as much. Also, if you are in these areas it is important to wear you mask to cover your face and mouth.
“Talk to your friend and family that you are going to whichever event you are going to. Is anybody sick? Is anybody at your home being isolated presently? Have you been in contact with anybody at your work place that you are concerned that you have been exposed to? If the answer is yes, then don’t go. Don’t go to that function. At this point we have got to start making the choices we know will help to sustain the health of our country and our economy as well,” she adde4d.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fernando Guellar of Belize Medical Associates said it is important for Belizeans to continue with the various protocols in place to curb the spread of the virus.
“We have to everyday stress on the personal responsibilities of the hand washing, the distancing, the facemasks wearing, and using the vaccines and boosters as much as we can.
“No way, now how I think looking back at what we have learnt from the past two years I think any lockdown make sense. So we shouldn’t even start a conversation about lockdown. Let the kids continue in school.
“We have been fairly good so far. Still expect yes that we will have lots of cases. I bet you Paul that we will be talking about COVID in 2023. It will not go away. We have to live with it and hopefully protect ourselves by the boosters and vaccines,” he said.
Belize has recorded 677 deaths and 58, 332 infections over the past two years linked to the virus.