The Ministry of Health and Wellness continues to monitor the spread of monkeypox within the Caribbean and Central American regions. The viral zoonotic disease is a growing concern after embedding itself into several nations with proximity to Belize, one of them being Mexico. The state of Quintana Roo recorded its first case of the pox virus as early as yesterday. The Director of Public Health and Wellness, Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, gave an update today about the measures the ministry has taken to prevent the virus from entering Belize.
Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, Director of Public Health & Wellness: “We don’t want to raise significant alarm. We want to keep the public informed. We want you to know how it spreads and we want people who have had that history of recent travel, especially travelled to any areas where Monkeypox was endemic or in other countries like some countries in Europe where thousands of cases have been reported and if you do come home and you have the fever, or you have the swelling in the neck or in the armpits and you start with a rash, you need to seek help from the Ministry of Health or from your healthcare provider as soon as possible. I just want to mention, as well, that the Central Medical Lab in Belize is capable. We’re capable at this point of testing for Monkeypox. We have our algorithm in place. We have done the sensitisation to our staff, especially our staff in the frontline in the clinics and at the borders and the lab is ready to run any suspected cases at this point. We have been able to train someone over the last few weeks in the PCR testing for Monkeypox and we’ve been able to procure the reagents as well and the lab has already done a test run last week. Everything has been successful and we’ve already been able to inform the other lab techs countrywide of what needs to be done. So we have algorithms and different things that we send out so that that person who is working in that facility would know exactly what to do, how many swabs are needed, where they need to swab. There’s the nasopharyngeal swab. There’s a swab that’s also needed on the lesion itself to pick up the fluid from that lesion and then once we have a confirmed case the lab would let us know and then we would then communicate that to the country.”
Dr. Diaz-Musa says that the ministry is working with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to procure vaccines. However, at this time, mass vaccinations are not needed.