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Record number of Covid-19 samples processed today

A record number of four hundred and thirty seven Covid-19 samples were processed today after labs experienced a backlog.  In a special edition of Ask the Expert the Director of Health Services provided the recent statitistics including fifty eight newly identified cases.  Among those infected is the first pediatric case hospitalized.

Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: Preliminary figures that is record number of tests would have been 437 PCR tests done today, that’s a record number of samples processed. The preliminary data is that we would have 58 new cases for today. That’s pending confirmation but it’s a total of 437 tests processed that’s the highest number in one single day. Staff does work on the weekends I know people were saying it doesn’t seem so, we do work on the weekends. The second highest number of PCR tests were actually reported on a Saturday so that’s what we have for now. 70 recovered cases so far so that’s when you start tipping the balance when you have more recovered cases than are positive. In terms of where we are with hospitalizations primarily for Karl Huenser and it’s important that we flag this because we now have the first pediatric cased hospitalized now at Karl Heusner’s COVID-19 unit, that’s a six-year-old male referred from the Northern Regional Hospital who has a specific kidney situation now and his x ray is documenting that he has pneumonia which is an infection of the lower lung portion. He has been hospitalized as of yesterday evening, currently stable not requiring supplementary oxygen but he is the first pediatric case hospitalized at Karl Heusner’s COVID-19 unit. Aside from him there’s six other patients at Karl Heusner’s COVID-19 unit one of those is ventilated, two patients are on what we call a high flow of oxygen and the other persons are with what we call supplementary oxygen which means you’re normally scaling them down in an attempt to ween them off the oxygen and see if they’re able to tolerate it and whether they’ll be able to go home after that.- that’s in terms of Karl Heusner. Karl Heusner and the Northern Regional are the ones we routinely will follow because they are the entities that are having the vast amount of cases as you would know and in terms of the northern regional hospital they have up to today they had only one admission and the patient that was transferred earlier to Karl Heusner as well, one person that self discharge which means they decided to go home against medical advice and one person that was discharged from the hospital home. So Northern Regional had started the day with four patients one was sent to Karl Heusner, one was sent home, one decided to leave the hospital and one person remains admitted at the Northern Regional Hospital. We also said we were going to start looking at patients that we are routinely discharging home as well so that we are not only concentrating on the negative situations because people are discharged home after they have recovered so it’s not everybody that’ necessarily having a poor outcome.”

With an estimated one hundred and eighty persons on the voters’ list for the November 11 general elections questions are arising amid the pandemic.  One of those questions has to do with the risks that persons would be taking when they get to the polls to vote.

Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “Many ways one is not wearing a mask properly, not doing physical distancing, doing things beyond just casting your vote and going home I think that’s perhaps the easiest way to catch coronavirus is if people go and linger around a polling station. I think our civic duty, and I’m stressing that, our civic duty should be we go, cast our vote, walk out of the polling station and go home. I don’t see any reason why anybody and I’m saying this as a person who has worked election duties and somebody who has voted is I anticipate going to vote early, take your ID – you don’t have to take any other thing you don’t even have to take your mobile device because your mobile device catches around  this is full of bacteria and stuff. All you need to do is take your ID, present yourself, take your mask for the ten seconds if you will that it’s gonna take for people to identify you, put your mask back on, dip your finger, go get your ballot, put whatever you need to put, walk back out and go home. Wash your hands as soon as you get home and it’s a holiday for most persons but it should not be a complicated process. Even the discussion I’ve had with returning officers, election clerks I think it was last week Wednesday is I ways trying to get the message across that I know people are concerned about the ink and people are concerned abut the pencil or the ballot box that’s not proven to be a primary source of infection or infections that are driven the primary sources are going to be primarily talking without a mask especially if you’re the one who is positive and breathing but if you’re wearing your mask and keeping your physical distance and as I said there’s no reason for you to be having discussions or talking with anybody really so the process should be a rather smooth one. Because at the end of the day beyond that you also have to be mindful of the election persons, the public officers conducting the actual election process so out of respect for them as well and as I was explaining to election clerks and returning officers is provided those provisions are kept you have all the right to make sure people are always wearing a mask when they’re coming into the polling station. You will have a lot of people coming in but as long as they are just following that process of coming by, you verifying who they are, you allowing them to dip their finger in the ink, taking their ballot, going to go and cast their ballot and then place it in the ballot box when they’re finished the risk is really I mean is not going to be there if we all follow that process both from the officers conducting the election and the persons who are actually casting their vote.”

In a previous newscast we told you of five staff members at the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Belmopan were tested positive.  While Director Manzanero spoke on this yesterday he added today that there are other entities that remain closed.  In addition the Director spoke of the rapid tests and how they will only be limited to persons who are symptomatic.

Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “If a business is asked to close because of an outbreak because most staff has tested positive how soon can they reopen and will someone from health confirm that they have been properly sanitized before opening? Yes will tell people that they have closed. I know the endoscopy center I can’t recall what the exact name is they are closed so we will be working close with them to see when they have actually they have been declared as a negative person they are going to go back and be able to work. I know the situation at DFC was specifically asked again of us yesterday. I spoke with the HR person late last night, she has confirmed that they have decided to close until the end of the month. They were checked by public health here and they were determined that the risk of having passed on the infection to others, general public, was practically non existent so I think they followed the due process. We should not be having a problem in terms of that and health did ensure that they were going through the proper sanitization process so I mean the fact that they’re going to close for two weeks is in itself a sanitization process because any virus would not have survived by the time they basically come back. Even among rapid tests there’s many tests that are out in the market. We are working with the ones that seem to be consistently having a higher sensitivity, a higher specificity as we move along and the SD BioSensor is the one that we have access to that seems to be meeting those requirements. It is anticipated that as you move along you will have rapid tests that will become more efficient and we are more than likely going to be able to use them in the general population as you move along. We must specify that the memo we are also circulating as of today – becomes effective today in terms of rapid test and I had a discussion with a private entity before I came here is that the rapid test in the population in the general population should be used only in persons who are symptomatic for SARSCOV2 or who are the close contacts of a person that has already been confirmed positive. Those are the only conditions under which we will be doing rapid testing within the public setting and we anticipate that those are the only conditions that private sector will be doing the actual rapid test usage and it has to be the SD BioSensor because that’s the only test we have validated to date.”

To date Belize has registered forty six deaths.  The data on the total deaths shows sixteen persons being sixty five years or older; ten persons between the ages sixty and sixty four; eight of them in the age range of 55 to 59; four between the ages 50 and 54; three of them ages 45 – 49; two of them between the ages 35 and 44 and another three between the ages 25 and 34.