The Belize Medical Associates (BMA) has announced that effective March 26 they will no longer be seeing patients with symptoms or signs of COVID-19. This includes Fever, coughing, running nose, and shortness of breath. This also includes persons who have traveled to infected areas within 14 days and persons who have been in contact with these travelers or those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The restriction according to Dr. Marcelo Coyi, Chairman of the Board of Directors, has become necessary due to the lack of appropriate facilities to adequately manage COVID-19.
Dr.Marcelo Coyi, Chairman, Belize Medical Associates, Board of Directors: “We have been having directives from Ministry of Health and Social Security that we must separate our patients so that the people can come in with respiratory symptoms do not mix with the patients that come for other things and our clinic on St.Thomas Street really doesn’t allow us in the current structure, we have a huge waiting room but it’s impossible to separate patients. Currently what we are doing when patients come in and they have respiratory symptoms we give them a mask to put on and then we move them into a room away from the general waiting room until such time as they are seen by their doctor but really that is not the ideal and so we were working with that until when the first patient was identified on Monday yesterday we decided to move on into a second phase; what do we do now that it’s a reality ? And the reality is that we cannot change the structure of BMA so we had to make that difficult decision to say well we cannot see people with respiratory symptoms that are suspects of COVID-19 and so that is why we made that decision that we would not be able to see patients here but we’ll be able to see all other patients, all the usual patients that come with heart disease, diabetes, renal disease, pregnancy, gynecological problems, the pediatricians so we’ll see everybody except those with respiratory symptoms and that is to safe guard and to safe guard our patients too and the Ministry is quite right that we should separate the two types of patients.”
These restrictions apply only to the clinic located on St Thomas Street, Belize City their other branches will be accepting patients with flu-like symptoms. BMA is in communications with the Ministry of Health officials and is ready to assist the national response to COVID-19 by providing non-covid medical services.