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MOHW Heightens Surveillance in Response to the Omicron Variant

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is increasing surveillance following the announcement of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron. The team at the Ministry in collaboration with the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and the COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group are carefully monitoring the situation. And while that is the case, Prime Minister John Briceno doesn’t expect stronger measures to be put in place.

John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “We cannot continue to allow the tourism industry to represent 40% of GDP and it doesn’t mean that will not support the tourism industry. We need to give them more support so that they could grow in aggregate numbers but as a percentage now we need to give more support to the agriculture sector so that then they can catch up so that their numbers also increase but that one would not be as dominant as it is so that if one goes down the next one could keep us limping forward as opposed to what happened to us in March of 2020. Now the Omicron variant well e don’t know exactly what’s going to happen there. Some people are saying that it seems – well from what I’m seeing what I’ve heard and the little that I’ve read it seems that the vaccines will be able to give you the necessary protection against the Omnicron variant but I don’t think we can look at locking down. Locking down doesn’t do anything it just holds it back for a little while and the minute you open up – if we continue to be reckless, not walking around with masks and having parties and everywhere go and drinking and without the mask and not taking the vaccines there is always going to be a threat in Belize. So we are preparing for it but the best preparation we could have is to ask people please get vaccinated that is the best chance that we have.”

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has increased its surveillance efforts in response to the discovery of the Omicron variant. The heightened efforts come after the new strain was reported to have numerous mutations, which may make it more transmissible especially amongst the unvaccinated population. However, according to the Minister of Health Michel Chebat the ministry is not looking to impose any travel restrictions.

Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness: “We do not have any travel bans that are gonna be imposed at this time however we do have increased surveillance at our land borders and across the country. We are on high alert for this variant. So as we keep on saying and as we’ve been saying the vaccine is the safest way. We continue to encourage all Belizean twelve years and above to please come out and get vaccinated. This is a new variant we still don’t know how it will act. We know that it spreads very rapidly we don’t know yet the severity of it and so this is all new information coming to us but we want to encourage everybody to come out and please get vaccinated. It is your best defence against this variant.”

Chebat also noted that the team at the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and the COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group are carefully monitoring the situation.