It has been one hundred and forty-one days since the first case of Covid-19 was registered in Belize. Tonight we can tell you that there have been one hundred and fifty-four confirmed cases around the country, primarily in the Orange Walk and Belize Districts. In speaking with Love News late this evening, the Director of Health Services Dr Marvin Manzanero explained that there are three hundred samples in the queue to be processed.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “After you start getting numbers I believe you start losing track of clusters mentally at least, we have it on paper and the team on the ground knows very well where these patients are because the numbers might be too many for me but at the district level – for some districts more than others – it’s manageable. So we have a total of a hundred and fifty four confirmed cases, thirty two recovered and of course two patients that died in April all the remainder of those are active cases that are being followed and we were just discussing with the team how we’ll go about following those because we can’t lose track of them. You know you have to always make sure when they’re due for their second swab and I know some people were being swabbed just today to confirm whether they have seroconverted so that gives us a total of a hundred and twenty active cases. The vast amount of those are going to be in San Pedro/ Belize district and the Orange Walk district. I know that the infographic, Minister had asked us earlier if we could give it a little bit more detailed in terms of tracking by community where the active cases are where they are pinpoint it I guess to a more precise geographic location. Well that can be done because the epi-team has all that data I’m not so sure that you can have a graph that represents in a friendly way for people to interpret all the information that you can put in a graph. So 120 active cases still mostly in those centers. I believe San Pedro has more than fifty active cases currently so they have about 48% of the total active cases of the 120. I do know that only a hundred and forty seven samples could come out today. You have two PCR machines that are running, there’s a third PCR machine that should be set up by tomorrow and you also have a Gene Expert platform that are being used so in theory would have three different PCR machines and one Gene Expert. The Gene Expert platform can give you four samples every half an hour but in the cycles that are being run we should have results in the next two hours. It’s a hundred and forty seven is the preliminary number I got of samples that will be processed today and then you have to go back and load up the machines and try to finish the remainder of the three hundred but those will run their cycles through the night so that we have results by tomorrow mid morning. So we’re anticipating that we should be getting close to 150 results later on today in the next two hours.”
As it relates to Ambergris Caye, one of the three clusters identified on the island is at a construction site where workers have since left to go to their respective homes. Dr Manzanero explained that the tracing exercise for the construction site is ongoing as workers come from several random communities.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “As the press release had indicated that’s where we think the potential spread would be to the communities – primarily north but they do have people go into other communities including the community where I live so it’s not one specific community but most of the villages that are appearing on the line listing are people who live up north. We had talked to the site engineer on Wednesday of last week just because we were following all leads we had not really confirmed anybody from that specific construction site until Friday and through the weekend because we were trying to find out why they had left the island or who had made the decision to send them back and my understanding from him is that people just basically left the construction site once a diagnosis was made of a case and the fear of a lockdown or being locked down in San Pedro I think prevailed so people basically left on the Monday, Tuesday and by Wednesday almost all workers had left. Mind you we had not made any identification or made any specific call from that cluster. So when you go back to review the data which is what happens everyday but Saturday and Sunday I think the data was further teased out more to try to make the links with those clusters in San Pedro and that’s why we had to put out the communication we had put out. We are having all the cooperation from the people from the construction site they have provided us the line listing, when they had anticipated they were travelling, the community they were staying, the layout of how they would share a room, phone numbers, we got all that information already and I must say publicly that we’ve had a good cooperation agreement. They were trying to coordinate with us how we bring them so that they can be swabbed in a kind of orderly fashion if you will the asymptomatic and symptomatic ones so we have to appreciate those mechanisms because I think that speaks well for further containment.”
While the Ministry of Health is continuing the tracing exercise, they are advising the construction workers who were on Ambergris Caye to remain in strict isolation for the next two weeks. In the north, with the numbers showing increases in the Orange Walk District one of the questions arising is whether officials will place a lockdown for that municipality. According to Dr Manzanero the lockdown, from a health perspective, occurs primarily to allow health officials to conduct accurate tracing.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “When you look at the numbers for Orange Walk, they look fairly big. But I know that one cluster alone in Shipyard has more than 10 and that’s one big family so that’s one big cluster that you have. So basically ten percent of your Active cases are one single family in Shipyard. The other cluster that’s active and has given people outside connections or at least the one in Santa Martha, we haven’t seen any other very active cluster yet. We’re starting to see one person from Yo creek but tied to the construction site, one person from August Pine Ridge who works in Orange wop. We have not seeing cases in the Orange Walk Tall one as yet but part of the contact tracing and the more than 80 samples coming from Orange walk through the weekend, which will be processed today or tomorrow will give us a clearer picture as to whether there’s cases that are not having any link to San Pedro or any of the other clusters that you have. Again, we don’t make lock downs we make recommendations based on what we’re finding. From the health standpoint it’s basically – because you don’t want people to be enough down forever- it’s basically just to allow us to be able to do adequate contact tracing and see how much we can contain those clusters.
That’s the element of a lockdown from the health standpoint.”