The World Health Organization has labelled the spread of fake news about the Novel Coronavirus, dubbed “COVID-19,” as an “infodemic.” It seems that incorrect information is spreading faster than the disease, and can be considered as fear mongering. In order to clarify the mess of fake information, the Ministry of Health held a press conference today. Sitting at the head table were several MOH representatives, along with one representative for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Lealov Reballos. Director of Health Services, Doctor Marvin Manzanero kicked things off by being upfront about the situation: Coronavirus is here to stay. Additionally, Reballos stated that PAHO is working with MOH to be able to eventually detect the disease in the country.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “We have to understand that COVID-19 is here, I think it’s really here to stay, I don’t think the question is even when it is going to- I mean it is going to come to Belize, it’s going to be spread everywhere and it may not in this flu season it might be in the next flu season, we might not even note that it comes and makes itself into general immune stream that we have. As you know for example there is a global influenza plan already for 2019-2030 under the WHO framework because the expectation is that there is going to be an influenza pandemic that has perhaps a higher mortality rate than what COVID-19 seems to be displaying at this point. This is the fourth time I recall being at the head table to discuss an infectious disease. Around the topic of Ebola four or five years ago in a different capacity I sat around a head table where we had discussions as to what it is that we are going to do. We had the issue of H1N1, three or four years ago I can’t recall when that press conference was but we now have H1N1 circulating in Belize; I know we were very cautious three or four years ago about that but I don’t know when the first case was in Belize, after that we seem to kind of dwindle down, it’s circulating and people are dying of H1N1 every year. We had a press conference around the Zika topic, I think we managed to find out where the first indexed cases was from our end but now we have Zika circulating in the pool of viruses and now COVID-19 is on the horizon. So the response really ought to be the same in terms of surveillance and public health measures, it’s the routine and it changes as we move along.”
“We have been sharing information and we have been having coordination meetings with the Ministry of Health and our PAHO WHO representative in Belize have been in touch very closely with the Ministry of Health including DHS we’ve had several meetings already taking place. We’ve had this week actually we are having a training in Mexico to increase capacity on identification of the virus itself and hopefully today it ends and when they all come back tomorrow Belize would have the capacity to detect the virus in country.”
National Epidemiologist for MOH, Doctor Russel Manzanero, was able to give the statistics of what we know so far about COVID-19.
Lorna Perez, the Surveillance Officer in the MOH, spoke about Belize’s plan to COVID-19.
As you will recall, on Sunday, GOB issued a travel ban which is still in effect. The ban is for passengers who have been in China within 14 days prior to arrival in Belize. The ban was also discussed at the press conference, and we will bring you more information on that in tomorrow’s newscast.