It has been thirty-five days since Belize reported its last confirmed case of Covid-19. Since the first case was confirmed on March 20, 2020, there have only been eighteen cases to date with two turning fatal and sixteen patients recovered. Our neighbors in the west and the north, however, are not so lucky when it comes to their data. International reports indicate that the two countries are struggling with the virus as more and more persons are becoming infected and the death toll keeps climbing. According to Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, despite the closure of the borders Belize still runs the risk of imported cases as illegal entries continue as recent as today when a Guatemalan snuck into Belize.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “If you notice we have been updating two different maps one is for the Caribbean region and one is for the Mesoamerican region. The Caribbean Region has value in that we have similar populations that you can see there are many similarities with the English speaking Caribbean but point of fact is that right now because our borders are closed we have to be really looking at the geographical situation in which we are faced and that’s where the Mesoamerican map comes into play and you realize that all countries in the region are starting to have escalating numbers and through the end of last week you had Mexico starting to suddenly show numbers highest number of deaths per given day same thing with Guatemala to the point that they declared I believe a complete state of emergency for three days that lapsed yesterday I don’t know what has happened today but everywhere the numbers are increasing. The only two countries that don’t seem to have escalating numbers are Costa Rica and Nicaragua but everybody else is increasing in their numbers. That’s one of the reasons why we keep highlighting the map because I know people are saying well today is day thirty five since you last had a case and while we are aware of that just as we had said in March we don’t live in a bubble we have to remain very vigilant to any potential case because what if there’s another imported case then you start counting again and that can potentially be your second wave. When you have a controlled environment where you are determining who’s coming in who’s coming out that makes it easier but perhaps the people who are jumping the border, the people who are attempting to smuggle themselves in like earlier today we got somebody who got in apparently came in from Guatemala not so sure how we’ve still following it up those are the potential cases that can quickly overthrown everything you may have done because these are people who are routinely going to be hiding because they came in illegally and maybe they’re not going to be coming forward whenever they start becoming ill and that’s the ____ we have not only in terms of the western border but in terms of the border with Mexico also. That’s why we’re trying to get the message across to people that we are not out of it if you have everybody around you just starting posting escalating numbers you cannot possibly compare yourself that you have gone through the COVID-19 situation. “
According to the Ministry of Health despite this success in the first wave of Covid-19 they continue to do random testing. To date, they have conducted one thousand three hundred and thirty-one tests have been done and only one person is currently under investigation.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “We are now doing testing only Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays most of those tests, actually last week we had more than a hundred test for the three days. That’s random sampling that you are taking and we are of course testing all those high risk persons, high risk could mean anybody who has influenza like illness. We had the discussion with CARPHA and our colleagues to determine whether this is something in point of fact that other countries were doing.”
On Friday, Guatemala announced a major 3-day shutdown. 2-wheel or 4-wheel vehicles were not allowed on the streets and stores were only allowed to be open for three hours per day. Effective today the Guatemalan authorities have indicated that a curfew will go into full effect from 5 pm – 5 am and that markets and stores will only be allowed to open for business three times per week. The wearing of masks and social distancing has also become mandatory by law. In terms of their data, Guatemala has seen over one thousand and seven hundred persons infected and a death count of thirty-five. Our Mexican neighbors are in far more dire straits as their death toll has surpassed the five thousand mark. Currently, Mexico has confirmed over forty-seven thousand cases of Covid-19. The state of Quintana Roo alone has reported just over one thousand two hundred cases; 37 of those cases are right next door in Othon P Blanco where Chetumal is located with six reported dead. According to a recent news article from The Guardian, Mexico’s Government has ordered that the precautionary measures be lifted for those subdivisions where no confirmed cases have been reported. The article goes on to report that the local authorities across Mexico have resisted President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s call to lift emergency coronavirus measures including the reopening of schools on June 1.