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Minister Of Health Speaks On the Fight Against COVID-19

Orange Walk North Area Representative, Ramon “Monchi” Cervantes is on his way to recovery following his contraction of the COVID-19 virus.

Orange Walk North Area Representative, Ramon “Monchi” Cervantes is on his way to recovery following his contraction of the COVID-19 virus. Cervantes tested positive for the virus on December 31 and has been in isolation since. Prime Minister, John Briceno informed the media last Friday that he suffers from mild symptoms as part of his struggle with the virus.

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “I spoke to Minister Cervantes this morning and he called me and asked me to please say a few words on his behalf which I did where he was thanking the people of Orange Walk North for the confidence that they have given to him and like me he said it’s an awesome responsibility and something like this is going to do every single day. He’s feeling much better. What he had been having is these piercing headaches and they come and go and so that’s what he’s been fighting with but he’s getting better and I am thankful that pretty soon he’ll be able to get back to the work of the people.” 

Approximately three percent of Belize’s population has contracted the COVID-19 virus. The recent data out of the Ministry of Health and Wellness has shown that over eleven thousand persons contracted the virus and over ten thousand persons have been dubbed as recovered. Six hundred and thirty eight persons are COVID-19 positive at this time and over two hundred persons have died due to complications relating to COVID-19. The Briceno administration has developed new strategies in the fight against COVID-19 since they took office in November. The strategy includes the hiring of new medical personnel, approval of treatment for COVID-19, mobile testing sites countrywide, overtime for healthcare workers and the distribution of masks throughout the country. Minister of Health and Wellness Michel Chebat spoke on the other initiatives being taken by the ministry.

Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness

Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness: “This government, this PUP government has started working from day one and we have made some significant achievements among those since we took office with respect to the KHMH Madam Speaker the new board under the leadership of Dr.Andre Sosa has revamped the COVID-19 response of that institution by creating a focal group headed by Dr.Adrian Coye. The changes are aimed at reorganizing and equipping the the COVID-19 wards in order to be able to treat more patients and to obtain more favorable outcomes and at the same time make for more compassionate level of care. A KHMH focal group of clinical experts has been convened under the direction of Dr.Coye and it is comprised of clinicians and technical people from within the institution and they are tasked with correcting deficiencies identified including feedback from staff. Madam Speaker to rectify the issue with inadequate oxygen delivery we have sourced high flow oxygen machines that will deliver the required amount of oxygen needed by COVID positive patients in critical conditions Cabinet has approved fifteen million dollars solely for the fight against COVID. Cabinet has approved the payment of accrued over time by health care workers-  overtime which was denied by the previous administration. Cabinet has similarly approved the hiring of more health personnel specifically for the fight against COVID. We have also gotten the approval for overtime for healthcare front line workers to be extended up to sixty hours. We have increased rapid testing to areas outside of the health facilities and we have even instituted mobile testing sites. You see Madam Speaker this government recognizes the importance of testing, tracing and isolating. We recognize that only be people getting their results in a timely and efficient manner will we be able to curb the spread of this disease. We don’t do this without the proper guidance and counsel, this is why I have formed and advisory group made up of physicians who are on the ground in the hospital facilities fighting this disease day and night. We have brought in a DHS that has been on the ground since the first case surfaced, a DHS that is familiar with what is happening on the ground; she is also guided by a group of physicians, nurses and public health officials. You see Madam Speaker we are at war, at war with a disease and for us to be successful we need a war time general familiar with what is happening on the ground. Madam Speaker the Ministry of Health and Wellness is cognizant of the fact that the treatm ent of COVID-19 is an evolving one and it is with this in mind that we have constantly updated our treatment protocols. I can tell you that we have added convalescent plasma, Ivermectin and Remdesivir to our treatment protocols. These same treatments that the previous administration of the Ministry did not want to approve is what has aided in the recovery of a lot of Belizeans, some including Madam Speaker at least one from our very own Ministry of Health and Wellness. We have started the distribution of face masks to the general population, our health staff and community health workers know that this is a priority for the Ministry of Health and Wellness and have been distributing masks.” 

Covid-19 vaccines are expected to arrive within the first quarter of this year as a down payment has already been made through assistance from the InterAmerican Development Bank. According to Minister Chebat Belize has secured COVID-19 vaccines for thirty percent of the population.

Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness:  “The Government of Belize has entered into an agreement with GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance for the Procurement of two hundred and thirty eight thousand doses of vaccine through the COVAX facility. This amount of doses is to cover 30% of the population at greater risk of contracting the virus and it is aimed initially Madam Speaker at the elderly persons and those persons suffering from chronic diseases as well as to the front line workers who are facing this battle every day. Madam Speaker an initial deposit has been paid and the remaining balance is to be paid by way of a guarantee which we should fulfill by the end of March 2021.”

In the past seventy-two hours, specifically, January 9 ,10 and 11 there have been over one hundred new cases of COVID-19 registered. Fifty seven persons have been dubbed as recovered and four COVID-19 related deaths were reported. Of the four reported deaths, one is Doctor Baldomino Barboza. Barboza is the third health care worker who has lost his fight with COVID-19. The Government issued a release of condolence indicating that Barboza was well-known among the entire medical community countrywide, especially in Orange Walk where he worked for many years. Love News understands that late last year, Barboza contracted COVID-19 and in early January he began having serious complications subsequently leading to his death at the Belize Healthcare Partners Limited on Saturday night.