COVID-19 Cases in Belize Creeping Up
COVID-19: it may seem like a thing of the past, but it’s here to stay, and cases in Belize are slowly on the rise again. Recently, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were on the rise in the US. Here in Belize, according to the Director of Public Health and Wellness, Dr. Melissa Diaz Musa, cases are up but hospitalizations. Today, Dr. Diaz-Musa explained that in recent weeks there was an uptick in omicron cases.
Dr. Melissa Diaz, Director of Health Services*: “The main and common symptoms that people are presenting with are sore throats, headaches, more upper respiratory tract illness. And I just want to make mention that we’re not seeing any increase in hospitalization at this time due to COVID-19. So there are fluctuations in the number of cases. In fact, I have the latest information and it’s just showing that mainly the districts of Belize district and Cayo have reported the highest cases with a higher positivity rate than Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek and Toledo. But again, still not in any numbers that are significantly concerning for us. The number of persons of course tested has reduced. So when you look at positivity rate, which is the number of positive cases over the total number of cases tested, we know that if you don’t get tested we wouldn’t see significant changes but obviously the person’s going to be tested are persons who are symptomatic. So it’s not anything that we would say that it has become a significant concern for us at this time for any of our six districts. Our advice remains that we protect our vulnerable population, we ensure that if you are sick, if you have a cough, cold sore throat, fever, feeling unwell, avoid crowded spaces, avoid vulnerable people. So you’ve got to look at persons 65 and older, persons with comorbidities like diabetes and high blood pressure and kidney disease. These people as well need to take extra precaution to take care of themselves as well and avoid crowded places or avoid visiting persons who have said that they’re sick or have symptoms of the virus. At this time, there are many other viruses circulating as well so it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s COVID but you still would want to protect the vulnerable no matter what virus it is.”
Dr. Diaz-Musa explained that while cases had risen, they are now dwindling. She says while the omicron variant may not be as aggressive as others, it is highly transmissible and encourages persons to remain vigilant.
Dr. Melissa Diaz, Director of Health Services*: “It was actually a little bit higher about two weeks ago. We’re seeing cases going down slightly over the last epi week, epi week 31, we’ve seen a slight drop. And we know that for globally, five of the six regions for WHO have reported a decline in cases from January to now. And for the region of the Americas that decline has been significant about 30%. Yet individually, we do have some countries reporting slightly increased cases, 10% more increased cases, but nothing significant for any particular country in this region at this time. In particularly, avoid people who are vulnerable. So don’t take that time that you’re sick to go and see your grandparents or somebody who is in the hospital. Take the responsibility and just say, “I’m going to wait until I feel better before I do the visits or whatever else”. So protecting our community as well and for our community who are the vulnerable persons to protect themselves as well. And I’d just like to mention that since our last gene sequencing in June, we got the last batch and it continues to show the variant Omicron circulating in the country from the positive cases.”