Belize has reported that five of the eighteen patients who have been tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered. The burning question with these recoveries is whether or not the patients have developed an immunity to the coronavirus. Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, explained that while it has not been certified whether a person could be re-infected with the virus, they are monitoring the situation and are retesting.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “Well more than being reinfected I think one of questions that always comes up is whether they in point of fact ever really recovered and you will notice we went from our usual quarantine period of fourteen days we made it up to twenty one and that’s simply because of what we were seeing on the ground which means our patients were not recovering at day fourteen. If you notice we’re into our fifth week and we’re just starting to recover patients so the virus has remained active in their system for more than what the traditional days will tell you so that’s why in the sweep- we also don’t want to retest people too early. So if we test you at day fourteen and you’re still positive we come back at day twenty one, if you’re still positive we come back a week later at day twenty eight and we have had a couple of patients who at day twenty eight were still positive so that’s the importance of highlighting that because that could be the reason why you’re not determining infections so we want to make sure that they have really recovered and even those patients who have recovered what we are telling them is that you still need to take necessary precautions inside your own home which means wear a mask, try to minimize contact outside and we’re considering what other tests we’re going to come back and do with them to find out what level of immunity as you rightly said they have developed which might be antibody testing down the road to see if they have really recovered.”
The term, ‘flattening the curve’ has been heard time and time again during this COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, the term has been misused and misunderstood. During The Morning Show today, Dr. Manzanero explained what it means by flattening the curve and how that occurs.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “So when we talk about flattening the curve the impression some people have it means you have zero cases or that you’re curve eventually is going to go to zero but what we’re telling people is that actually that’s not the way it works because COVID-19 is not really going to go away. Even if all of your eleven remaining patients recover it doesn’t really go to zero because you’re still going to be mapping total number of cases over the course of time. So the reason why we say flatten the curve because for example – it’s just a little representation – you see the little red graph and the yellow and then you have lines, the dotted line for example in red could very well represent how your system works that’s you don’t want to go beyond that in total number of cases in any given point of time. Once you reach the yellow line for example and you start having more cases in a given period of time then you have overwhelmed your health system which means – the red line would be for example your actual capacity to see patients they yellow line would be your surge capacity which means you take all of your hospitals and use them all as COVID-19 case. Assume that your culture starts to go up let’s say your total bed capacity is three hundred beds but at any point in time you have three hundred and fifteen patients requiring some level of hospitalization then your health system has been overwhelmed and that’s why you talk about flattening your curve, it doesn’t mean taking it to zero it means keeping your cases under your critical level so your health system is not overwhelmed; that’s what everybody is trying to do.”
It has been 32 days since Belize got its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Since then Belizeans have been adapting to a new lifestyle as some are working remotely, social distancing is practiced at stores and online shopping has become more popular. This, according to Dr. Manzanero is the start of a new norm that citizens will have to get used to.