The Ministry of Health is mapping out a plan for when COVID-19 arrives in Belize. This plan includes how the announcement will be made when it is time. This information was shared this morning at a sensitization and discussion session about the virus. The members of the media were able to share their questions and concerns and receive answers from Doctor Natalia Beer, Advisor in the Maternal and Child Health Unit, as well as two members of MOH’s taskforce, Claudette Dakers-Noralez and Kathleen Azueta-Cho. This session is part of their communication plan as they prepare for the first case of the virus. Dakers-Noralez explained more about their plans for the future.
Claudette Dakers – Noralez, Information Officer, Ministry of Health”: “How do we deal with the panic? It has been a lot of information being shared with us. We get information from various sources, from yourself the media, from yourself the public. We have made it public that we do have a 0800- MOHCARE phone number for persons to call and share their concerns, to clarify any rumors, to address any information that they may not be certain about. We have tried our best to respond to rumors on Facebook, we have done several press releases in the past to clarify for those, we have done personal one on one responses through text messaging, through announcements, through press releases and as well as much as we can when we are in a public forum. We’ve also started a webcast through the Government Press Office to assist to have the public share with us their concerns and we have addressed them as best as possible. Unfortunately we are aware that persons out here may be concerned, they are not sure of information, they want answers immediately, we are doing our best to address those. The way we see the announcement of the first case the Ministry myself I’ve already drafted the first announcement press release and this is based on practices that have been done within the Caribbean; we work closely with CARPHA. The press release will announce the first case as soon as we have lab confirmation. The way we see the announcement coming out the lab technician the head of that lab will share the information with the Director of Health Services, the information will then be shared with the Minister of Health and the Office of the Prime Minister. Ideally depending on the time of this announcement we would do a live broadcast through the assistance of the Government Press Office to have either the Minister, the Prime Minister of the Director of Health Services to publicly announce that we have confirmed our first case. Immediately following that live announcement a press release will be sent out and as well our international partners who need to know of this first case will also be notified as soon as possible.”