Almost two dozen healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19. These workers are from both private and public healthcare facilities. In a recent presentation via Ask the Expert, the Director of Health Services, Dr Marvin Manzanero spoke on the twenty-three new cases reported last night and thirty-four additional cases coming out of samples finalized today. According to the statistics from the Ministry of Health, the majority of the cases are in the age group, twenty to thirty-nine. With the announcement of new cases each day, Belize has seen a rapid increase over the last two weeks with a current total of five hundred and nine. Dr. Marvin Manzanero briefed us on the breakdown from the data last night which resulted in 23 new cases.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “We had a further six cases in San Pedro, people were asking whether we are still doing cases in San Pedro but as I had said as we move along we’re going to be shifting how and which persons you’re going to be testing or you go for in San Pedro. One in Orange Walk, four in Corozal, four in Cayo but that includes as I had mentioned persons from Belmopan that are linked to health, eight in Belize City. Now what routinely happens for example in the batch that has just come out we will go first and inform the ones that are positive that’s why there’s a little bit of delay and I need to explain that again, a delay in terms of getting out the result. So even though I have the preliminary number I want to be able to alert and give the staff time to be able to call all the persons that are positive first. You will understand for obvious reasons the ones that are negative there’s a little bit of a delay and sometimes that happens even the day after the results are out and that’s simply because there’s patient confidentiality that needs to be kept so not everybody has access to information in terms of positive and negative.”
As we noted earlier there are 34 new cases in today’s samples. The majority of these cases are on Ambergris Caye as explained by Dr Manzanero.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “Thirty four positive cases, twenty nine of those cases thirty four are actually in San Pedro – for those people who are saying we’re not testing in San Pedro I mean just so you know that’s twenty nine cases today. One case is in Belize City and four are in Belmopan. Three of those four are related to a previously identified person so that’s a close cluster if you will and one person up until right now seems to be unrelated to any other identified case. So out of the thirty four cases today twenty nine are in San Pedro. So when you explain that in a curve situation well you’ll see this curve continue to spike so if you have thirty plus cases being identified cases being identified everyday then that curve will be in ascending order. When does it start to plateau? Once you start having less than the average cases you have had over the last ten – fourteen days. So once you start having twelve, eight, that’s when your curve starts to plateau and it starts to descend but for now with those kinds of numbers your curve is just going to continue to go up. Hopefully over the next couple of days also we should be providing you local projections based on the numbers we’re having that are plugged into tools so that you can get a sense of where we anticipate we are going to go with that.”
To date, Belize has had thirty-eight recovered patients. Initially, our health system’s procedure would test negative twice before declaring a patient as recovered. However, with changes made on the World Health Organization level, Belize has adapted to those as well.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “Recall that we were saying before you need to get two negatives before you’re able to be discharged from isolation, from quarantine, whether you’re able to go back to work. That particular recommendation has changed in WHO so that the recommendation actually mentions that the criteria may change, if you’re not able to do two negative tests- if you’re not going to be able to do that, you lab capacity has been overwhelmed then the criteria that you can use is for people who are symptomatic people who had fever, flu like symptoms ten days after the onset of symptoms and provided they have gone three additional days without symptoms which means no fever and any respiratory symptom those persons may be able to go back to work so that mean on average thirteen days after you have started with signs and symptoms is when you would be able to go back to work if you are not able to test as a country with the two negative PCRs and we checked in the region and most countries have moved towards that. Some countries have even moved to seven days after you were diagnosed as long as you don’t have any symptoms people are going back to work. For asymptomatic cases – and again this is WHO recommendation – ten days after you test positive for SARS-CoV-2 if there’s no sign or symptom you can go back to your routine activities, of course the necessary precautions that will prevail in terms of physical distancing, wearing a mask when in the presence of others and hand washing is what would routinely happen.”
To date, Belize has four hundred and sixty-seven active cases of COVID-19, thirty-eight recovered cases, and four deaths related to COVID-19.