Belize is seeing its third wave in the Covid-19 pandemic. Within the last twenty-four hours, there have been an additional forty-two cases confirmed, primarily in the Toledo District. As a matter of fact, Santa Elena Village in the south has reported some twenty-three cases. It is a situation that has aroused concerns especially when the national referral hospital has re-entered an emergency mode. We join our News Director, Renee Trujillo for a look at the situation.
Tonight twenty persons are admitted in the COVID19 unit at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Some positively diagnosed with the virus and others awaiting test results but displaying the signs of the disease. The situation has pushed the facility to re enter its emergency mode which means that the elective surgeries and treatments are now being put aside. The hospital’s board chairman Dr.Andre Sosa told Love News that this is the third wave that has sounded alarms across the health sector.
Dr.Andre Sosa, Board Chairman, KHMH: “The ICU is a separate service so thankfully I think we have one or two patients in the regular ICU. Now in terms of the COVID ward we have eight persons there now of which I think we have one person ventilated and we have two or three on high flow oxygen. We have seven persons under investigation for COVID who we don’t have the confirmatory test as yet, the PCR results. Of those seven individuals who are under investigation one of them is being ventilated so there’s a high probability that that person might be COVID positive as well. We have approached capacity in terms of the COVID ward. We have the POI section substantially full and we have opened and overflow area in the event that we were to get a large influx of additional cases either confirmed or under investigation.”
Under the emergency mode the outpatient clinic has been closed temporarily and the emergency area relocated. The closure of the clinic poses an estimated $3,000 in losses each day for the hospital. As the hospital faces an issue with spaces for the COVID19 patients Dr.Sosa pointed out that the majority of those hospitalized are yet to be vaccinated. This he says is testament to the efficacy of the vaccine which is reported to significantly mitigate the symptoms and lessen the chances of death.
Dr.Andre Sosa, Board Chairman, KHMH: “I can’t give you that figure off the bat but what I will say is the overwhelming majority of them are unvaccinated. That obviously is a problem and clearly the answer to this issue of the surge and of the filling of the COVID ward is to vaccinate. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has approximately a hundred thousand vaccines available so I would urge everyone to go and get vaccinated. If you have already gotten your first shot and you’re eight weeks please go and get your second shot because bear in mind that a single shot does not give you the full protection as having the two shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
In addition to the rate of COVID19 infections there is the concern of the shortage of nurses. The shortage has led to an aggressive recruitment at the KHMH.
Dr.Andre Sosa, Board Chairman, KHMH: “In the last COVID surge we were able to count on the presence of the backup from the Cuban Henry Reeves Brigade. We don’t have them available presently. You are aware of the nursing shortage, the chronic nursing shortage in this country but I’m happy to say that we have been recruiting very aggressively and we have been able to employ approximately twenty new nurses so far and we hope to bring on an additional eight persons by the first of August so that would probably put us close to thirty nurses additionally working with us.”
At the time of the release of this story Belize’s current number of active COVID19 cases stood at 332 with 474 persons under investigation as suspected COVID19 cases and 332 deaths.