BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 8, 2020– During the “Ask the Experts” webinar streamed live on social media on October 7, the Director of Health Services(DHS), Dr. Marvin Manzanero, said that he does not know when the current COVID-19 wave in Belize will plateau.
The DHS said that the country could continue to see a surge in the number of cases during the coming flu season, with a possibility that cases will continue to increase into early January 2021.
The DHS also said that Belize has met its obligation to the COVAX facility to contribute 5 million Belize dollars to secure the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines, which should cover about 20-30 % of our population. The vaccine is scheduled to be available by the third trimester of 2021, according to the DHS.
At this time, cases are being closely monitored in the Orange Walk and Belize Districts, where increased numbers are being recorded daily. A group of 27 BDF soldiers who were stationed in Orange Walk are currently in isolation after testing positive.
Also, 14 police officers have been found to be infected with the virus and are currently classified as active cases. An additional 4 healthcare workers have been classified as active cases as well.
Last week, 4 prison officers tested positive for COVID-19. During the webinar, the DHS reported that 2 others tested positive, bringing that number to 6 prison officers.
Also, 3 prisoners tested positive for COVID-19 when ramped-up screening began on October 6, but 5 additional positive cases have been discovered among the prisoners, bringing the total to 8. Dr. Manzanero said that an additional 90 persons from the Kolbe Foundation-managed prison will be screened as a part of the surveillance.
According to the DHS, many persons are being diagnosed with additional complications at the time of their COVID-19 diagnosis. This highlights that many citizens are unknowingly living with diabetes, hypertension, and other severe illnesses which increase the severity of the COVID-19 infection.
The DHS also pointed out that persons previously swabbed for COVID-19 may be lying to healthcare officials by withholding relevant information. This, he says, adds an additional layer of risk for healthcare workers who do not use full PPE with patients not found to be infected with COVID-19.
In regards to the discovery of new cases via testing over the past three days, the data is as follows: On October 7, a total of 360 tests were processed and 67 new cases were found. An additional 35 patients have recovered, taking the percentage of total cases that are active to 36.8%.
Twenty-five cases were found in Belize City, an area that is closely being monitored at this time. Also, an additional 23 cases were found in Orange Walk, 7 in Corozal, 3 in Stann Creek, and 3 in Toledo. Data as of October 7 records has indicated 2,310 confirmed cases, of which 849 are active, and 1,427 are recovered, and there have been 34 deaths.
The 4 most recent deaths were all recorded on October 6. All persons — 3 males and 1 female — are reported to be from the Orange Walk District. According to the infographic released by the office of the DHS, 2 victims are said to come from Orange Walk Town, 1 from San Felipe, and 1 from Trinidad Village.
Three of these persons died at the Northern Regional Hospital and the other person passed away in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital’s ICU in Belize City. When asked to comment on these recent deaths, this is what Dr. Manzanero said:
“I know that we have had at least two persons die at Northern Regional Hospital, saying that they are not coming to the Karl Heusner; they refused to be referred to the Karl Heusner, and I know of two persons who actually asked to be discharged from the Northern Regional because they didn’t want to stay there.
“They decided they were going to go out and rent the oxygen tank so that they could get supplemental oxygen at home, and then they were brought back to basically die at the regional hospital.” On October 6, 175 samples were processed and 39 new cases were identified; also, 14 recoveries were recorded.
October 5 saw only 8 new cases from a small batch of 89 samples that were processed. The breakdown of active cases recorded as of October 5, 2020, is as follows: Orange Walk — 319 active cases; Corozal — 148 active cases; Belize — 113 active cases; Cayo — 97 active cases; Toledo — 34 cases; and Stann Creek — 19 active cases.
Of note, Toledo shows a significantly lower number of confirmed cases in the area when compared to the number of active cases. This is due to the fact that the persons identified as COVID-19 cases in other parts of the country returned to their original place of residence to isolate and recover.
According to the DHS, the data shows that it takes up to 14 days for a person to be cleared to go back to work after being infected with the coronavirus — provided that they continue to adhere to all the precautionary rules in place to prevent further spread of the virus.