The Ministry of Health is currently monitoring 16 active cases of covid-19 in the country. One case in particular has caused plenty of concern for the Ministry as well as for residents. A man in his 50’s living in the Cayo District was identified as being positive for the virus. On today’s edition of Ask the Experts, Dr Marvin Manzanero gave more details on this case.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “The flag that went up yesterday for us from the wider surveillance group was of another case that we identified in the Cayo district particularly in Santa Elena Town and that is a male in his early 50’s who was seen at the San Ignacio Community hospital on Saturday night complaining of gastrointestinal symptoms and having a loss of sense and a loss of taste. I must commend the clinician that saw this patient because again, because you’re talking about enhanced surveillance this person did not present with respiratory symptoms but you have to commend the doctor for thinking of COVID-19 running specific acute fever illness test and running swabbing for SARS-CoV-2. So I think we have to part off from that from the fact that we have an enhanced surveillance system within the public setting that is allowing us to be able to map out exactly what is happening. So this person was swabbed on Saturday, treated and was sent home and I’ll explain what that entails because the person did not meet criteria for being inside the hospital and I’m saying because he didn’t have the classic signs and symptoms COVID-19 is one of your suspect diagnosis that you can have; this person could have had other things so he was sent home. He did not have criteria for staying inside a hospital. The preliminary report I have now because contact tracing as I said started yesterday via phone and the person is asymptomatic, the person is at home, lives with his wife. The couple has acknowledged that they have had multiple contacts by virtue of the work he does he is into scrapping metal that’s his business. He has acknowledged he travels across the country over the last because you have to go back to when he was initially swabbed the – the last fourteen days try to remember where you have been. He acknowledges that his partner does sell clothes at the market area and at times she also runs a taxi.”
Many Belizeans are asking if this is a sign of community transmission. Dr Manzanero stated that this is not the case as yet.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “The situation here might be that he more than likely got it from an asymptomatic person. The asymptomatic person could have been a border jumper, could have been a contact of any of the cases that we have identified be it from Blue Creek or from border communities that keep jumping. It could be a border jumper that jumped and went back to their community because that happens and we all would know where those things happen or it could be a border jumper that came is asymptomatic and just infected him and he had minor signs and symptoms. If we are able to find more cases either related to him or other cases that start to pop up spontaneously with no other known connection then you could talk about a community spread.”
As for the case with the family in Blue Creek Village, Orange Walk District, who had tested positive for covid-19, Dr Manzanero stated that they are not cooperating with the Ministry. This makes it harder to do proper contact tracing.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: Three minors were picked up, because they were alone at home when they were picked intervention was done through the Ministry of Human Development and eventually another family member, an adult, accompanied the children to the quarantine center in Orange Walk. So they were swabbed before and that’s why we made a diagnosis of three initial cases. We eventually made a diagnosis of four more which was the parents and two adults of the same family. So it’s two adults but five are sons/daughters of this adult couple. Three minors and two of their children are adults. Those persons came into the Blue Creek police station after the minors had been picked up and they were taken to be swabbed and were placed at the quarantine center so that’s the diagnosis we made on Friday. So we had an initial cluster of seven cases. The family has not been that forthcoming in sharing information as to their contacts. Granted they were not picked up crossing the border illegally but the community did report that they or at least the male person does cross the border routinely and that’s how we came about to these cases. Because they have not been forthcoming with information then you would understand that any contact tracing, any mapping exercise that you undertake becomes a prolonged process then you have to go back and do a kind of reverse process because then you have to go back to the community and find out what has really transpired there. So teams went to the Blue Creek area from Friday, they went back out on Saturday, they were there in the early parts of the week and today they were in San Felipe doing contact tracing, mapping.”
Another of the most recent cases was a man who came on a repatriated flight on Friday. He went into mandatory quarantine and thus is not a cause for concern at this time.