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Apr 3, 2020

COVID-19 Hits City Hall, Belize City Mayor to be Tested

At one-twenty-five this morning, a fourth case of COVID-19 was confirmed following a battery of tests of twenty-five persons.  The announcement was made before nine o’clock this morning to the nation by the Director of Health Services. The fifty-five-year-old man is from San Ignacio and commuted to the city as an employee of City Hall. The mapping exercise started in earnest of those persons who came in contact with him, including the Belize City Mayor and at this point, the case may be a game changer because of the individual’s data.   The Prime Minister released a sobering recorded statement on the matter. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Less than twenty-four hours after the country of Belize went into a thirty-day period of lockdown, in a bid to halt the spread of COVID-19, a fourth case has been confirmed.  The result is a from a battery of tests that was conducted recently; the latest victim of coronavirus being a resident of San Ignacio Town.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The infected person is from the Cayo District, but up until about eleven days ago, had been traveling to and from Belize City where he worked.  He is in isolation at the Western Regional Hospital and the DHS [Director Health Services] and his team have already commenced their mapping and tracing exercise.  Indeed, swabbing of contacts as a prelude to testing has already started; and the exercise includes coverage of the medical professionals involved in the treatment of the patient.”


That individual, a senior member of staff at City Hall, works closely with Mayor Bernard Wagner.  In the course of his duties, he may have come into physical contact with other employees of the Belize City Council.


Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Belize City Mayor

“I was informed by Dr. Manzanero and since then we have been doing the necessary work along with him to ensure that we identify all those individuals and staff members [who] we consider primary contact, who made contact with the individual and those are mainly the staff on the third floor and thereafter we would go for the, we’d list the secondary contacts on the second floor and any other contacts he would have made during that time.  And we are filling that form as we speak, so that by the end of the day we will be getting that form with all those names and thereafter the mapping will start.”


The patient is a fifty-five-year-old man whose diagnosis was confirmed shortly after one a.m. today.  According to Dr. Marvin Manzanero, that person took ill on March thirty-first, exhibiting symptoms of fever and respiratory distress.  The task ahead for the Director of Health Services and his team is for them to plot a chart of everyone who came within reach of this individual.


Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“We are at this point conducting a mapping exercise to identify his potential contacts as he doesn‘t have any recent travel history and he doesn‘t seem to have any primary contact who may have traveled out of Belize in the last fourteen days.  If we are unable to ascertain that he has any contacts that have a travel history, we will have to consider this as a community transmission and that should be determined by the end of today.”


At City Hall, this employee’s office is adjacent to the mayor’s.  Today, the corridors on all three floors of the municipal building are clear, save for a few persons here and there.  While he has not shown any signs of illness, the head of local government told News Five that he too would be tested for COVID-19.


Bernard Wagner

“Well I am feeling pretty well, pretty healthy.  I have been doing all my physical activities, exercises everyday and that has been from the day that the doctor had indicated that the point with his last contact here.  I have been feeling pretty well, but again you could never be certain and so this afternoon I am supposed to go through the testing for the COVID-19 and I just remain open-minded about it.”


This most recent case certainly buttresses government’s decision to bring into force a countrywide state of emergency.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“It is clear now that the state of emergency declaration and the shuttering of the country came not a moment too soon.  Still, there are people insisting that we are overreacting in promoting some of the draconian measures contained in the revised statutory instrument signed last night by His Excellency the Governor General.  I hope that this fourth case will help persuade them of the absolute gravity of the situation.”


The seriousness of the present state of affairs may very well reshape government’s approach to dealing with COVID-19.  That is after all confirmations have been made to determine the nature of this case.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“If in point of fact it is the first case of a community transmission then we will have to reclassify and give instructions as to how we will handle the potential cases.  We do know that the patient had been seen at a private institution on Sunday and at another private institution on Tuesday where he was referred for care at the Western Regional Hospital.”


Mayor Wagner extends best wishes for the full recovery of his colleague.


Bernard Wagner

“It’s unfortunate that that occurred with one of our staff members and we want to wish that staff member well.  We never, you could never imagine that the pandemic would be at your footsteps and so we wish him well.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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