COVID Outbreak at Belize Central Prison
The Director of Health Services Dr Melissa Diaz confirmed this morning that there is an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at the Belize Central Prison. As we reported yesterday, two hundred and fifty-nine new cases were recorded between December 6 and 12 countrywide. At the prison, about 80 inmates tested positive for the virus. While the prison has not instituted a total lockdown, measures are being taken to control the spread. Dr Diaz provided an update.
Dr.Melissa Diaz Musa, Director of Public Health: “In week 49 which is just the first week of December there has been an increase and if you notice the infographics from yesterday you would see that the positivity rate has gone to 9.9% and this is a significant jump and there are many reasons for this we’ve not only been seeing an increase in COVID cases in homes but we have had an outbreak at Kolbe at the prison and that has accounted for a significant increase for the Belize district. So for the Belize district for the COVID cases we have gone up from about 2% to the last week going up to almost 16%. So that’s the really the reason that we’re seeing that significant jump because Kolbe Foundation the prison had about 42 to 43% positivity rate last week. Now they have managed it well. We have had experience in the last two years dealing with outbreaks at the prison and the medical team there they’ve been able to isolate the positive cases and they’ve been able to contain the transmission. In fact as of yesterday they have had only two new positive cases and today they do have some persons to test but the majority have recovered, they’ve had no severe illnesses so far and no need for any hospitalizations.”
According to Dr Diaz, the recent increase in the number of new cases signifies that Belize is entering a new COVID-19 wave.
Dr.Melissa Diaz Musa, Director of Public Health: “Yes it is definitely it is. You know we’ve seen our positivity rate in a week has gone from 2% to 9.9%. The difference is that we have not seen significant hospitalizations but if we leave it to just continue to spread we may then start to see increase in hospitalizations and we need to protect the integrity of our health system, we need to ensure that we protect the vulnerable persons so that we don’t see an increase in hospitalizations and that we see a reduction in the transmission of this virus. Whatever virus it is if you have conjunctivitis for instance we as the Ministry of Health and Wellness even though conjunctivitis might not cause significant symptoms we need to do something to stop the spread. So with many infectious diseases you would say that once the surveillance system picks it up that there’s an increased number than we usually expect we need to do additional measures to ensure that we reduce these numbers of whatever illnesses it is but more so for COVID19.”
Dr Diaz stressed that the COVID-19 virus remains in the country and continues to encourage the public to wear face masks.
Dr.Melissa Diaz Musa, Director of Public Health: “We continue to encourage public health measures. It has to be there is absolutely nothing that is mandated, it’s not a mandate to wear masks but we encourage that if you do have an elderly person in your household, if you do work with the elderly or with vulnerable populations you should wear your mask. You may be asymptomatic but you can still transmit COVID. This is something we’ve got to take our personal responsibility and make the determination whether or not you would wear your mask. Of course if you’re a young person and you’re not living with a vulnerable person and you feel well it would not be necessary. We also recommend that if you do have a cough, a cold, you have body aches, you have fever notify your employer as well keep your mask on and get tested. We have all our health facilities continue to perform tests, it’s easily accessible and we’re asking that you continue to check because you might have very little symptoms or mild symptoms but somebody who is more vulnerable and whose body is not able to fight the virus as good as you can might not be as lucky. So you know we’ve got to look at the situation. We’ve got to take things in perspective and if you do have somebody who is ill at home or if you do have somebody who is immunosuppressed, somebody who is a cancer patient, diabetic, hypertensive please go ahead and protect that person.”