Nearly 300 persons on Mainland China have been infected with a virus dubbed the Wuhan Coronavirus; six of whom have passed away. The outbreak reportedly started in a seafood and poultry market back in December. This strain of the virus causes infections in the respiratory tract. Today, the office of the Director of Health Services assured Belizeans that they are monitoring the disease. Despite China being thousands of miles away, Doctor Marvin Manzanero, stated that it is procedural for the Ministry of Health to monitor these outbreaks.
Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “The Ministry of Health has officers that are routinely copied into any health alert that comes about anywhere in the region. So in light of what is happening with the Coronavirus, which is the virus that has been identified being the cause of the outbreak that is happening in Central China, we had been reported Coronavirus ongoing transmission but I think in the Middle Eastern countries over the last two or three years but not in the numbers that are the numbers that are now starting to come out. We also had been made aware, I believe it was early December, that there seemed to be a cluster of infections that seem to be severe of upper respiratory tract infections, particularly in the pediatric population but it wasn’t known what was the cause; the Coronavirus I think is in the last couple of weeks it was identified. As with all new infections you first have to determine what the actual transmission – human to human transmission had not been reported initially a couple of weeks ago, its now starting to seem like that in the last twenty four to thirty six hours so I think as this evolves more and more information will come about as to the actual mode of transmission but now it seems to be human to human. It’s been linked to upper respiratory tract infections where some patients seem to have progressive respiratory distress and the death rate associated with it I don’t know the exact percentage because it seems to be changing as more and more people are being identified because one of the initial notes that we got is that there may be a higher number than what is actually being reported and that’s not because people don’t want to report it it’s just that it may have not been linked to the new infection; it may have been treated just like any other flu virus.”
We also asked Doctor Manzanero about the possibility of closing the borders to ensure the virus does not enter Belize. He stated that such measures will not be taken this early.
Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “We are not at that stage yet because also international health regulations will tell you that when you infections like this come about, border or international travel is not routinely restricted. I don’t think you’re going to find anybody that is going to put border restrictions or travel restrictions based on an ongoing outbreak until further information is determined and then even so it’s precautionary measures that you would need to set up rather than just closing air, land or sea travel, so we are guided by that. We are in constant communication CARPHA, PAHO and keeping track of what CDC alerts have in that regard to see what mechanisms are being placed elsewhere and we follow suit in that regard because you can’t put up isolated mechanisms when everybody else is doing something different.”
So far, there has been one case of the virus detected in Washington, USA. The 30-year-old man started exhibiting symptoms after a trip to the region around Wuhan, China.