All eyes remain on the Coronavirus. Belize’s health officials met in emergency session this morning in Belmopan to do their assessments of where the virus currently stands, how far it has spread and what measures are necessary for Belize. Cayo Correspondent, Fem Cruz was on-hand immediately after the meeting and spoke with Epidemiologist, Dr Russell Manzanero. Here is that report.
While the government’s health officials are monitoring the situation, the question does arise as to how prepared our local doctors and facilities are should we be faced with such a situation. Love News had a one on one with Internist Dr Fernando Cuellar who did an assessment of our medical resources.
Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Critical Care Specialist, Belize Medical Associates: “I don’t think we’re ready for these types of epidemics or pandemics but we have limited resources. As it is we have limited resources to deal with Dengue and now we have another virus on top of us. We don’t have the space, we don’t have the machines to tend to everybody so some people will ‘tel lick’ and perhaps die because there are not enough resources to go around; we can help some but we don’t have the human or the material sources to build a hospital in two weeks just to deal with these people. So the other thing that needs to be mentioned there is not a specific treatment for it as yet, there are some ideas going out there, we keep reading I believe we as doctors we a reading ten times for the day, during the night we get updates, we get the mention of certain drugs that are not even in Belize that they are trying out, they’re trying to make a vaccine as quickly as they can but considering ourselves an under resourced country I think we will have trouble if it ever comes here.”
According to a social media post from the Director of Health Services the ministry noted that antibiotics have no role in the prevention or treatment of coronavirus infection. It is a novel strain of the virus for which there is no specific treatment and no vaccine. According to Dr Cuellar it is crucial that the government communicates regularly with the public and remains vigilant.
Dr. Cuellar suggested that the Ministry of Health should consider implementing travel bans as a preventative measure as well.
Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Critical Care Specialist, Belize Medical Associates: “Listen to the authorities of course, everybody has information from everywhere but we have to rely on our authorities to let them feed us the correct information. I would hope though that our government and ministry become a little bit more emphatic in perhaps considering a travel ban sooner rather than later but I know there is a lot of considerations with that and the big boys at top will have to make that decision but I wouldn’t see why that wouldn’t be a proper thing to consider. We don’t have all the fanciness that they have in the states and other places but we would have to try our best to isolate people and minimize the exposure to other persons. Of course the first line people will be the healthcare workers so our nurses, our doctors will be the people most vulnerable.”
Reporter: Do you think we have that proper procedure set ?
Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Critical Care Specialist, Belize Medical Associates: “I don’t think so, honestly I think we have to fine tune. I would understand the Ministry trying to sound like they’re on top of things and no cause any extra panic but from what I know from the public and private setting we don’t have all of the necessary resources.”
On a Facebook post the Directors of Health Services, stated that the coronavirus has been in the region for decades and is the same virus that gave rise to SARS back in 2003. They also noted that the key determining factor for the virus is prevention. They reiterated that ongoing surveillance and public health measures are being reviewed daily.