Last Friday, the administration at the Belize Central Prison confirmed that five prison officers from the Belize Central Prison had tested positive for Covid-19. This was a major concern, as prisons can easily become super spreaders of the virus among the prisoners. Love News spoke with the Director of Health Services Dr Marvin Manzanero for an update on the situation at the prison.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: In terms of the BDF we had already mentioned towards the end of last week what we were doing with those with that particular group affected in Orange Walk and what recommendations had been made to the BDF in terms of keeping them under quarantine under one single area if possible instead of sending them or allowing them to go home exposing other family members. So if you keep just a battalion or exposed group together then you have to wait out the quarantine period I mean that’s the way it should work. In terms of the prison there’s a team going from headquarters tomorrow to look at that particular situation and we are perhaps gonna do- again it has to be targeted interventions you can’t go and assume that you’re gonna be able to test the entire prison population. It’s not prisoners that had been necessarily exposed so you’ll have to go look for the symptomatics first do a rapid test and take samples for PCR as well and once you take out the symptomatic then you look for the close contacts of those prison officers that were positive. Once you have cleared that and depending on how many more you have to do you might have to do random sampling of the prison population but that’s what is intended to happen starting tomorrow.”
So far, there are no other reported cases within the prison population. According to the CEO of Kolbe Foundation, Virgilio Murillo, more tests will be conducted but no one is currently displaying any symptoms.
Virgilio Murrillo, CEO, Kolbe Foundation: “We did check on them today and they remain asymptomatic. They seem to be doing well, they are in isolation you know so that is good and at their respective homes in their respective districts. Today we continued with our contact tracing, I think the doctor did twenty one more tests of officers who may have been in close contact with these other four and those were sent to the lab so I imagine tomorrow hopefully we should be getting the results of those tests. You may recall that last week when I did the interview I had said that there was one more test pending well thankfully that test came back and it is negative so it eventually it boiled down to only four out of the entire thirty for last Friday. So that is where we are with that. Tomorrow the Ministry of Health were to come in today with their crew but for some reason or the other they did not make it so they have scheduled tomorrow to come and carry on with that further contact tracing which will include inmates as well but I can tell you with certainty that the inmate population are certainly not displaying any signs at all so if there should be anything wrong again it can only boil down to asymptomatic cases if that is the case.”
According to Murillo, the prison has implemented strict mask wearing protocols for staff and prisoners.