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May 4, 2020

Random Testing for COVID-19 Underway

Director of Health Services, Doctor Marvin Manzanero also told News Five that random testing began over the weekend for frontline workers and other persons. He confirms that the ministry is in receipt of fourteen ventilators and several test kits in its fight against COVID-19. Among those screened in the random selection are those persons who illegally crossed into the country in the north.


On the Phone: Doctor Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“Some elements of that have already happened, particularly with frontline workers in Belize District. Through the weekend, we swabbed people randomly, for example people who were caught entering illegally—some in Placencia and some up north. Those were randomly swabbed so those can be considered random sampling. What we have done is, as an epidemiology unit, we have identified who can be more at risk population and then because you can’t test everybody, the intention is to do random sample taking from these population. Let’s say you have four hundred and twenty-two doctors; a random sample would be ten percent of those distributed across the country so you would swab forty to forty-two doctors to give an example. So you have to look at the patient population of each of these frontline workers and then randomly take out samples from them. Because you are not having people who are critically ill, we are no longer envisioning doing testing every single day. We will do a map of the calendar with specific times and dates when tests will be done or ran by the Central Lab because you will understand that the health system starts to also open up and go back to doing routine activities now with COVID-19 as well. So for example, I don’t think we are running any specific tests today. We are pooling samples that are coming in from the country; those are being prepared and more than likely will be run tomorrow.”


Duane Moody

“Just to clarify, we have the requisite reagents and what have you to do the tests?”


On the Phone: Doctor Marvin Manzanero

“Yes, we got another eight packs of reagents last week Wednesday so we have to be running those reactions. It doesn’t mean that we are going to be using all of them in random sampling because the random sampling is not going to last forever. You just need to prepare and make sure you don’t have any active case. We will continue to test all those who are severe acute respiratory illnesses, those having influenza-like illnesses. Those will be routinely swabbed so we have the reagents for now. Our ventilators have also arrived. We got fourteen more ventilators that arrived last week and we are still pending the ventilators from Bowen and Bowen.”

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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