BELIZE CITY, Tues. Apr. 21, 2020– After announcing during its webcast this afternoon that one person who contracted the novel coronavirus has been listed as fully recovered after negative tests were returned, the Ministry of Health updated its infographic late this evening, adding that another patient has recovered from the virus, bringing to 2 the amount of recoveries.
In Belize, there were 18 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, which resulted in the death of two men.
Since four persons tested positive last Monday, April 13, there has been no other confirmed case of the virus in Belize.
The Ministry of Health did not provide any details about the two patients who have recovered. The Ministry, which has not been identifying patients by name but by number, did not state the numbers that were used to refer to the patients who recovered; neither did it say what kind of medication may have assisted in the recovery.
The remaining 14 COVID-19 patients are said to be at home in self-quarantine.
Speaking this afternoon during the Ministry of Health webcast Ask the Experts, Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, explained what has been happening as it relates to testing for COVID-19.
“We have done close to 175 tests over the last 6 days. Some days you have a bigger batch going in. I do have to stress that we are anticipating that the swabs we use for testing and the enzymes that are needed for the testing, because it is not just the tests you need, but you need extraction enzymes, purification enzymes, and those should be arriving tomorrow,” said Dr. Manzanero.
The government has come under criticism for not accepting testing kits that were being gifted to Belize from South Korea through SICA, the Central American Integration System, which had procured the kits. Instead, the government has been pursuing the acquisition of testing kits from Grand Cayman, which had bought them from South Korea, which had also sold COVID-19 testing kits to the United States.
Manzanero provided an update on the status of the testing kits, saying, “We did follow up on the Cayman Island offer and we spoke with people directly linked with the Cayman Island lab, and they indicated that they are on a backlog order that will last 6 to 8 weeks, so even if we are to procure those kits, our backlog will perhaps be longer than 6 to 8 weeks, and so for now, we keep on with the actual PCR platform testing kits, and hope that we get all those PCR enzymes tomorrow.
“We are anticipating that some of the equipment we had paid for, PPEs and ventilators, should be arriving tomorrow. Even the supplies from PAHO that were supposed to arrive, the reactions are here — we have 2,500 reactions for doing testing — but the other elements have not arrived.”
Manzanero went on to say, “ In reply to the question that if it is true that Belize will be buying kits from Cayman Islands – why buy them now when they were initially being given for free, they were not the same kits. I think we have clarified that, and this is the third time we are saying that. They are not the same kits, and even if we decide to buy the Cayman Islands ones, we have to understand that we will have to buy the separate reagents which the Cayman Islands doesn’t have.”
Dr. Manzanero also said, “We are going to go back and review where we are going to be testing, because we have tested all those patients who are hospitalized, and that have influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory illnesses.”
Feature photo: Dr. Marvin Manzanero