BELMOPAN, Fri. Feb. 5, 2021– The Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Michel Chebat, rose to give an update on the COVID-19 pandemic during the recent sitting of the House of Representatives held on Friday, February 5, 2021. Minister Chebat confirmed that the 100,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine would arrive in Belize before the end of April.
He also announced that the country would have the opportunity to procure an additional 81,697 doses of vaccine through the African Medical Supplies platform, an opportunity extended to CARICOM states. Finally, he shared that Belize has accepted a donation of twenty thousand doses of the Sputnik 5 vaccine from the Russian Federal Republic.
“We are not letting our guards down, Madam Speaker. The public health measures are still in effect, and the mandatory use of face masks and physical distancing are not only law but are now ticketable offenses. We are serious about controlling this pandemic,”Hon. Chebat said while speaking about some of the measures put in place by his Ministry.
“No longer is wearing a mask and physical distancing a taboo. It is an indication of how much we care for one another,” Minister Chebat said. In his presentation, he took the opportunity to thank frontline workers who have been battling the pandemic in Belize since it began nearly a year ago. He also thanked the Belizean people.
“[I thank] the people for having maturity, responsibility and most of all, Madam Speaker, they have shown that we are indeed our brother’s keeper and we are responsible for the health and well-being of one another,” Hon. Chebat said.
He then proceeded to update the House of Representatives on the Ministry of Health and Wellness’s vaccination efforts.
“Kindly allow me to update the honorable House on the status of the COVID-19 vaccines. The COVAX facility has advised us of the intended delivery of a hundred thousand, eight hundred doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of the first quarter of this year. This indicative distribution, Madam Speaker, is based on the estimated availability of vaccines from the manufacturers. On the twenty-ninth of January 2021, the European Medicine‘s Agency, EMA, granted conditional marketing authorization for AstraZeneca vaccines to be used in European countries,” Minister Chebat said.
“The next awaited step is for the World Health Organization emergency use listing for the AstraZeneca vaccine. Apart from the COVAX facility, Madam Speaker, the CARICOM Secretariat has advised us of the opportunity to procure eighty-one thousand, six hundred and ninety-seven doses of vaccines through the African Medical Supplies platform. This is an opportunity offered to CARICOM member states and we have expressed our interest to CARICOM through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Madame Speaker. As well, I am pleased to report that today through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we have indicated to the Russian Federal Republic our acceptance of a donation of twenty thousand doses of the Sputnik 5 vaccine,” he went on to say.
According to Chebat, the donation from the Russian Federation was made possible through the Ambassador of Panama to Belize, H.E. Marta Boza.
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness, Madam Speaker, along with the representatives from professional and business associations, trade unions, civil society organizations, health professionals from the private sector, United Nations agency and the Government ministries in Belize, are working together for a successful vaccination campaign against COVID-19,” Minister Chebat said.
He also stated that Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Attorney General’s ministry are revising the Public Health Act at this time to make amendments to facilitate the importation and use of the vaccines in Belize.
“The priority group to be vaccinated, Madam Speaker, are healthcare workers from the public and private health sector, followed by the elderly populations and the population with risk factors,” Chebat said.
The full details of the inoculation program will be shared publicly, according to Minister Chebat.