The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added Belize to the list of countries deemed “high-risk” for travelers. According to an article by CNN, the decision to place Belize in the Level 3 or “high-risk” category for Covid-19 was made on Monday. Belize currently has 883 active cases, which is the highest number since March 4 when active cases were at 955. This uptick when compared to the first report of the month, which was produced on May 3, reflects an 84 percent increase in active cases. Minister of Health and Wellness Kevin Bernard during his presentation at the 75th World Health Assembly spoke about the difficulty the country has in maintaining testing efforts.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “Testing and treatment remain the most critical component to ending the acute phase of the pandemic. But for developing countries like Belize maintaining testing readiness is proving to be a great challenge. Average daily testing in the last month is barely a third of the rate of testing in January. Cost of testing not just of materials and supplies but also to maintain accessibility through testing sites as well to deploy the requisite frontline personnel is near impossible for low and middle income countries like Belize. Additionally treatments are still not widely available in the Caribbean or elsewhere in low and middle income countries. Current projections indicate that treatments will not be available for developing countries until mid 2023. High income countries have bought almost all existing supply. The early challenges we encountered in accessing vaccines including financing and patent hurdles are replaying all over again. In the last two years we have learned lessons that are essential to ending the acute phase of the pandemic. These lessons including the key role of multilateral institutions as well as the importance of adequate financing in particular to support the public health systems of vulnerable countries. International cooperation and support is indispensable and needs to be sustained to ensure that our countries are able to maintain adequate level of testing. Therefore it is important that multilateral institutions such as WHO, UNICEF are adequately funded as these agencies will be critical to accessing treatments and to eventually ending acute phase of the pandemic.”