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Feb 27, 2020

Healthy Living: Covid-19 Personal Prevention Plan

The entire world is still on edge as we continue to see the rapid spread of the new virus, COVID-19. Locally, the Ministry of Health’s surveillance efforts continue at the major ports of entries, and there is, to this date, no confirmed cases in Belize. But the situation remains changing, and everyone needs to be vigilant in controlling the spread of disease. Tonight in Healthy Living, we review the prevention practices that will help keep you safe.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It’s only been one month since the new coronavirus global outbreak was declared. Since then, there are many more new cases, many more countries with confirmed cases and more information available about the illness itself. The number one question is, how does Covid-19 spread? What is known at this time is that the virus is spread primarily from person to person. Very similar to how the flu virus spreads. When an infected person coughs or sneezes and sprays the infected droplets into the air. These droplets can land in on another person’s mouth or nose and even be inhaled them from the air, spreading the virus.  Covid-19 may also spread through infected surfaces. This happens when the infected droplets are deposited on surfaces, and people come in contact with it shortly after and then touch their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, they can get infected too.  The latest studies are showing that even people who don’t have symptoms. In other words, they are asymptomatic, can spread the Covid19. This is why the message from health experts across the globe is the same, that everyone should be focused on prevention.


Dr. Melissa Diaz, Primary Health Coordinator, Central Health Region

“The key message is prevention.”


…and that universal prevention message is as basic as it can gets.


Dr. Melissa Diaz

“Getting rid of the rags and using tissue of needed. Sneezing or coughing into your arm or forearm. Hand washing. Many of us just wash our hands to wash our hands’ sake. It should be at least twenty seconds of hand washing. Not sharing foods and drinks, especially if you are ill. And trying not to touch your face and not touch your mouth and nose, especially if you are exposed to someone who is ill.”


Hand washing to prevent a global outbreak? Yes, globally, we don’t wash our hands enough or correctly. Proper hand washing includes soap, clean water, at least twenty seconds of lathering, and a clean towel or paper to dry your hands. This practice should be done frequently throughout the day.  The other critical practice is properly covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Not with your hands, not with a reusable rag, but in the bend of your elbow, your forearm, or tissue that you will throw away right after. This simple change in habit can limit the spread of many viruses. And what about using a surgical mask?


Melissa Diaz

Dr. Melissa Diaz

“When we talk about regular face masks and its use. People do use it and feel that it’s effective. There are some limitations that it can have when it comes to the prevention of significant viruses. We do know after it has become moist from saliva or whatever, the protection significantly reduces. Using the face mask isn’t something that the Ministry of Health is recommending for everybody to wear just because of its limited efficacy after using it for an hour or two. The one thing it might help you do is maybe make you not touch your face. But other than that, we can’t say that using this will definitely protect you from getting this virus.”


Marleni Cuellar

“So it may be a false sense of comfort?”


Dr. Melissa Diaz



If you do feel safer using a mask, remember that the effectiveness is tied to the type of mask and whether it used correctly. Nonetheless, a mask alone won’t keep you in the clear. As all experts agree that the best line of defense against any virus is still hand washing that is frequent and proper hand washing.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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