Four months ago today Belize confirmed its first case of Covid-19. The case was imported via a San Pedro Town resident who had flown in from the United States. Since then there have been forty confirmed cases reported by local health officials. The recent surge of Covid-19 cases have been primarily from border jumpers and repatriates. While the Government of Belize has had some semblance of control in the repatriation process, it is the case of border jumpers that has law enforcement meeting and discussing the options available to lessen the cases. Recently, one of the more alarming cases was in the north where seven family members were infected. The cases originated from Mexico and had caused for a State of Emergency to be declared for the villages of Blue Creek and San Felipe. Director of Health Services, Dr Marvin Manzanero explained to Love News earlier today that the contact tracing has been completed and that both ministries of health and national security are formulating a plan to tackle the illegal immigrants.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “Since they’re under an SOE what we did was make recommendations on Friday or shared our notes rather because we had completed contact tracing in Blue Creek and San Felipe by Friday we had tested all of those suspect sample or cases or close contacts and all of them had turned out to be negative so we were not able to ascertain that there was any community spread at least from that cluster that we identified initially which is the seven cases only. Whether illegal crossing are occurring I will not be able to comment I don’t have that data because health doesn’t go and monitor those particular situations we monitor any potential suspect cases or once there is an identified illegal crossing that has happened and that would warrant a swab to be taken. The specific recommendation I think I mean may not have to be the fully extent of what a current SOE is but I think these border communities, not only these two across the country down south, west, warrant levels of intervention that would ideally would want to be able to screen what’s going on not only from the health standpoint but in terms of people going and coming from those communities. I know that CEOs went on a visit down south last week Friday, of National Security, the head of the Task Force CEO Goff and specific recommendations are going to be made as a result of what happened on Friday but I think levels of intervention will need to continue to happen with the border communities because I don’t know that illegal crossings are going to get any less. And particularly up north it’s a little bit troubling to continue to see the increasing number of cases in neighboring Othon P Blanco – they have more than a thousand one hundred active cases as of yesterday’s report I haven’t seen the report for today but that number is still spiraling up. Recent data that we reviewed early today suggest that they won’t peak until the end of August and that epidemic or particular trend is not expected to really flatten completely I mean the curve may flatten but the current epidemic in terms of numbers is not expected to taper off until May of 2021.”
As at Friday, July 17, the Office of the Director of Health Services reported that they have conducted two thousand eight hundred and ninety two tests. With at least three more repatriation flights scheduled to come in and with the increase of border jumpers and the planned reopening of the airport, our newsroom sought to find out where Belize stands when it comes to testing kits.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “I know that last week we got further extraction reagents from CABEI I don’t recall the exact number but we would have enough PCRs and projected returning Belizeans. I’m saying this because I know there is now a request for people who are leaving Belize asking if they can get a PCR test done I can tell you that we have not factored that in to our talley of what we had requested so we are unable to cater to that demand right now and I don’t foresee us being able to cater to that in the near future it’s only going to be PCR tests for returning Belizeans even when the airport opens. We have enough kits, I can’t give you the total number I can verify with the lab and maybe send that to you via some other means but I don’t have the actual tally of tests that we’re able to do now.”
With the majority of schools preparing to reopen in twenty one days, Love News asked Director Manzanero if any inspections will be carried out at the schools. We also asked him to update us on the progress being made at the airport as they prepare to reopen on August 15.
Belize remains at forty confirmed cases of Covid-19; twenty one of them are female patients and nineteen are males. Currently there are several samples in process with two cases are under investigation. Since the first case was reported we have had two deaths, twenty two recovered patients and sixteen active cases.