Belize now has the capacity to do initial screenings for COVID-19. Two officers from the Ministry of Health’s Central Medical Laboratory were trained at the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference (INDRE) in Mexico City. The training, which included participation from the entire Central American Region, lasted for two days. Today, we visited the Central Medical Lab and spoke to the officers who returned to Belize last Friday.
Ruby Aguillon, Molecular Biology Unit, Central Medical Laboratory: “This training was held for the Central American region so they had participants from each Central American country like El Salvador, Honduras and Belize. So then,there they gave us a brief information about the new virus. The reagents that we are using they just designed those reagents so then there at Mexico City they showed us the procedures that we need to take and the protocols we need to follow to diagnose this in each of the participant countries. So at the end of the training they provided us with primers, probes and the necessary reagents to go back to our country and implement this. We have Coronavirus circulating here in our population but those are the common ones so this is a new strain. This strain is common in animals like the rat bat that they are talking about and so based on that the symptoms that the doctors saw and everything that you know in China then they wanted to know what really is the specific makeup of that new virus.”
Celso Carrera, Medical Technologist, Central Medical Laboratory: “It is very important to be prepared as a region, that is the main essence of this training. The World Health along with PAHO is working with the region to be prepared for whenever this virus arrives in our region because sooner or later the virus will get to Belize and we need to be ready to respond.”
We will have much more on how this screening process works in tomorrow’s newscast.