After confirming her as a COVID-19 patient, the Director of Health Services has indicated that the woman of San Pedro Town is recovering to the point where she no longer has any symptoms. Since the test came back positive on Sunday night, health officials have been tracing the movements of the businesswoman and have conducted interviews with her as well with the people she has been in contact with. In today’s edition of Ask the Expert, Dr. Marvin Manzanero gave an update on how many persons have been screened on the island as well as countrywide.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “The first preliminary exercise in San Pedro in terms of the mapping has happened. I know that the immediate contacts of the person who the index case are going to be swabbed and those samples will be brought today for testing, the samples are already on their way as I’m being told on a private boat because you know there’s no official communication – and I say official because we keep hearing reports of private boats trying to get out of San Pedro or coming out of San Pedro and so that’s not really helping our particular situation. The initial mapping has started what that does is you identify the cases, the persons who were in direct contact where they were so we have an initial set of names, of course those names are not released what we do is contact them directly and find out the level of interaction, determine whether they need to be swabbed or not and then we do that line. This thing will also have the current health status of the person and then what the team will do is call you every day until that has been determined whether you are at risk or at what point in time you need to be swabbed or not. I have gotten the note it’s thirty four people that have been initially mapped, it doesn’t mean that these thirty four people were in direct contact or in close contact but that’s part of your mapping exercise you have to map out and we have all the names, addresses and stuff. Not everybody from that thirty four will be swabbed you just have to interact with them, ask them their level of interaction and you determine your risk based on that so that has been completed for today it’s not done though.”
While the media has avoided publishing the identity of the infected person in San Pedro Town, several social media accounts have published the patient’s name and photograph. The publication of her name has spurred discrimination, threats of violence and anger. Dr. Manzanero says the reaction from the public is only making the job of health officials even more challenging.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “One of the clear things that needs to be articulated is that we cannot be going down a road of personal attacks versus anybody, versus the index patient or the family because that doesn’t really help our investigation process. As is we found out that there was a link, they were trying to link the index case to a family in Benque that apparently has nothing to do with the index case and now that family is considering taking legal action against anybody who started or continued with that particular situation so again we’re asking people that doesn’t help anybody because what that tends to do is it tends to send people into hiding and then our investigation process is going to be much more delayed. Not everybody in San Pedro just because you were in San Pedo means that you were at risk and I think we need to say that because I think throughout yesterday/ this morning what people have been saying is “I know a family who was in San Pedro last week and they are in this particular village can we go burn down their house,.” that kind of thing. Those things are really not going to help anywhere, it doesn’t work like that I mean that’s people who were in immediate contact and that’s in line listing that we have developed. We are hoping to be able to complete this exercise within the next forty eight hours which is the quarantine period that has been established and even if people are leaving San Pedro and they feel that they may have been in contact because people can still leave which is why sometimes lockdowns or quarantines are difficult to enforce if you don’t have enough people on the ground then that can make it more difficult but anybody feels that they have been at risk coming out of San Pedro then they need to make the necessary precautions of being in self isolation/self quarantine.”
Patient Zero arrived in Belize last Thursday via the PGIA from Los Angeles, California.