*The Department of Youth Services is reporting a confirmed case of COVID-19. The potential that this one confirmed case within the department might lead to a COVID cluster is a possibility. The DYS coordinator who tested positive originally works in the Corozal office but was in Belize City this week for a training along with dozens of DYS staff. Minister of Youth, Sports and E-governance, Kevin Bernard, briefed the media this morning of the situation. *
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Youth, Sport and E Governance: “It was observed on Tuesday I believe in the morning that one of the coordinators who originally works out of Corozal office was showing signs and symptoms of COVID and was asked to go home so that he can get tested. It was then reported to us yesterday morning that his results has come out positive and so as a responsible ministry and as a responsible government in our department the director and I we spoke along with CEO and we made the decision to immediately ask that first of all that everybody that was involved in the strategic session be tested so arrangement has been made with the Ministry of Health with the different local authorities there across the country to get them tested and to contact trace because remember now these people go home to their families and to others. So that is the first step. We have been able to have gotten so far thus only two responses which were also negative, they have done their first rapid test which came out negative but I believe that they are all going to be doing the PCR test because we want to ensure that everybody is on the safe side. We’re hoping however that there’s no real issue but we have to take the precautions and so what we did for example in Orange Walk our youth coordinator there had gone into the office to have a meeting with the staff there and so in order for us to be able to ensure that there is no spread we have also asked that that office be closed temporarily, that the staff be quarantined while we await the result of both Ms.Enid and in this case our director who was also in Orange Walk. So he himself who is here can tell you that he has not been having any symptoms but at the same time has also decided to take those precautionary measures and will be tested tomorrow. I understand through Mr.Cadle that the arrangement has been made for the Orange Walk people to be tested tomorrow and I think this is happening across the country.”
For now, the staff of the DYS countrywide are being tested. Offices countrywide have been closed and services suspended for at least seven days as sanitation proceeds. Director of the DYS Kevin Cadle explains.
Kevin Cadle, Director, Department of Youth Services: “We could have taken other measures but we swiftly decided that the way to go is to be responsible and adhere to the protocols as it relates to COVID and in consultation with our CEO Jose Urbina and our Minister Kevin Bernard we decided that we should swiftly shut down our Belize City office as well as our Orange Walk office where we are also in planning as well as Corozal. So our Belize City, Orange Walk and Corozal offices as well as the Belmopan Office the Western Regional Youth Training Institute will be closed for the next seven days.”
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Youth, Sport and E Governance: “If I may add that we are also working with the different local health authorities and our counterparts to ensure that all these facilities are sanitized. Again it is again us out of a matter of precaution because like I said we don’t know if there is any spread but we just want to make sure that we are safe and we want to ensure the public is aware that whenever we open back we are safe to do so.”
Minister Bernard stressed that only one person has tested positive. The minister says that the ministry’s quick and decisive response may prevent further spread and infections.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Youth, Sport and E Governance: “I just want to clear the air that there is no issue of major spread because we don’t have the data as yet, we only know that one individual who was tested positive. I know he lives in Orange Walk and so we’re aware that his common law wife who is also a government employee in another ministry arrangement has also been made through the contact tracing through the Ministry of Health because I was able to speak to the regional manager this morning on my way to Belmopan just to get a further update on that situation and that’s when I got to understand also that that department will also be quarantined and tested tomorrow as well. So arrangements are being made and I want to commend the swift response of the people of the Ministry of Health for taking a very serious approach into it and to immediately get into the contact tracing so I know the people there in Orange Walk they have been doing an excellent job in making sure that they can target all those who the individual may have had contact and who those persons may have had contact with over the few days.”