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Mar 19, 2020

Healthy Living: COVID-19 Preparation

As the only country in Central America with no confirmed cases of COVID-19, Belize remains on high alert for suspected cases of the new virus. Tonight in Healthy Living, we look at some of the symptoms that are associated with the virus and what you should be on the lookout for. 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
As the surveillance continues across the country for COVID-19, Belizeans are asked to monitor themselves for any “flu-like symptoms.” But what does this mean? To understand the symptoms of the new disease, we must know how this new virus affects the body.


Jorge Hidalgo

Dr. Jorge Hidalgo, Intensivist, K.H.M.H. & B.H.P.L.

“The COVID-19 is like a tennis ball with different spikes, and what happens is that we know they need us to be transmitted to infect other people. The virus needs us. Two things can happen: these spikes can attach to our nose, but most importantly the spikes can attach to the cells in the lungs.”


The lungs are vital organs; we use them breathe and enrich our body with the much-needed oxygen. Doctor Jorge Hidalgo is an intensivist, which means he provides care for the most critically ill patients.


Dr. Jorge Hidalgo

“Most of the patients, eighty percent of the cases, it could be they have no symptoms or they will have very minimal symptoms. When a situation like that, when we start to experience respiratory problems, the main symptoms are cough, fever, and shortness of breath.”


Scientists are learning more about this new virus daily. Some of the preliminary data from studying China’s outbreak that started at the end of last year tells us more about the symptoms of COVID-19. Firstly, it can take anywhere from two to fourteen days before symptoms may start to appear. The most common symptoms are:

1) Fever

2) Cough and

3) Breathing problems (shortness of breath)

Some persons may have body aches, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. There are some who may become infected and not don’t develop any symptoms. Being asymptomatic—having no symptoms—can lead to the spread of the virus to others without even knowing, and some people are at a higher risk for severe complications.


Dr. Jorge Hidalgo

“We are talking about the population; the most vulnerable population and those patients that have any kind of medical background, especially heart failure, hypertension, patients with pulmonary obstructive disease, we call it C.O.P.D., and those categories are patients with chronic bronchitis, emphysema. Patients that have diabetes and also patients that have kidney failure and are on dialysis, and patients with any type of cancer that are undergoing chemotherapy cause their immune system is not so strong to fight. And for some reason, we know already thats the population that is most affected which is forty to sixty years as an average.  The most important thing we can do is follow the instructions of self-isolation and social distancing.”


Not every person who gets COVID-19 will need hospital care. When health experts analyzed the COVID-19 outbreak in China, they noted that eighty percent of the confirmed cases were mild or moderate. These persons experienced symptoms like we would get when we have the flu to a cold. They did not require hospitalization. Fourteen percent of the cases were severe. These persons required treatment at a medical facility specifically for oxygen and other medical care. And the last six percent were critical. These patients required intensive medical treatment, which is why keeping the number of cases as low as possible is the goal.


Dr. Jorge Hidalgo

“The most critical thing is that we hope that people don’t reach the point that they have to reach the level that we need to have patients admitted to the I.C.U. because even the best healthcare systems, when you have this amount of patients; the health system is going to be overwhelmed.  Our only and most important option right now is trying to do all the prevention measures we have that you have been listening to social media and all the television. We need to take care of our salvos initially and take care of other.  That’s what we have to do right now.”


Dr. Hidalgo echoes the message of all health officials that minimizing the spread of COVID-19 is essential.


Dr. Jorge Hidalgo

“One of the most concerning things is the fatality rate of the virus, especially for persons with co-morbidities, the reactions we have. Despite everything as human beings, we react wither because it’s natural. This is the time for us to get together. Together we can fight it.”


The Ministry of Health has a hotline for information about COVID-19. Dial 0800-MOH-CARE.

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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