BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 6, 2020– The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, with more than 1.2 million persons being infected worldwide and over 70,000 having died from the virus, as of today, Monday, April 6.
The novel coronavirus was imported into Belize, which had been free of the virus prior to March 23, when the government announced that a 38-year-old woman had tested positive.
Since then, three other cases have been confirmed by the Ministry of Health, with Patient #4 being announced on Friday, April 3.
Patient #4 resided in San Ignacio, in the Cayo District, but was employed by the Belize City Council and worked in Belize City.
By Sunday, April 5, when the government announced that a Belizean student had arrived in the country and had been placed in isolation because he had tested positive for COVID-19, Patient #4 had died in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital isolation unit, to which he had been transferred from the Western Regional Hospital on Friday.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow in a press statement issued on Sunday evening, expressed condolences to the family of Hubert Pipersburg, 55, on his passing from COVID-19.
“It is my sad duty to announce the death this afternoon of the fourth patient to be diagnosed in Belize with COVID-19. On behalf of the entire nation, I offer deepest condolences to the wife and family of Hubert Pipersburgh. He was a well-known, indeed renowned, Belizean who served his country both at home and in the diaspora,” Prime Minister Barrow said in his press statement.
PM Barrow continued, “Mr. Pipersburgh was diagnosed in San Ignacio early on Friday last, and was transferred to the KHMH that same evening. He was then intubated and appeared stable until today, when he deteriorated sharply. He died despite what I am assured were Herculean efforts on the part of the medical staff to save him.
“Mr. Pipersburgh’s death is an occasion for mourning. It is also a reminder, coming to us in the worst possible way, of the need for all Belizeans to treat this terrible virus with the grave seriousness it deserves. No one need doubt that such a reminder is necessary. Every day since the declaration of the state of emergency, the police have had to arrest scores of persons for breaking curfew and breaching the stay-at-home and social distancing regulations. The social media pictures of people piled almost on top of one another at the Michael Finnegan market in Belize City yesterday, are further and shocking proof of our heedlessness.”
In respect of Patient #5, PM Barrow said, “The Ministry has also placed Patient #5, a Belizean that a couple of days ago came back from the U.S. via Mexico, in strict quarantine. This was done in Corozal immediately upon his entry into the country, thus minimizing the possibility of any transmission from that patient.”
“The point of rehearsing all this Ministry of Health activity is to reassure Belizeans: tireless work is being done on the medical front, and there is no need to panic,” said Prime Minister Barrow.
There has been no medical update on patients #1, 2, and 3. Patient #1, a 38-year-old businesswoman from San Pedro, may face legal consequences for not adhering to the self-quarantine that she agreed to when she entered Belize on a flight from Los Angeles.
At the last government press conference, Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte confirmed that the Commissioner of Police will pass the investigation file regarding a potential criminal charge against Patient #1 to the Director of Public Prosecution for her advice.
Feature photo: Hubert Pipersburgh , deceased