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May 11, 2020

COVID-19 First Wave Contained; What’s Next?

Belize has passed its first wave of COVID-19. But don’t expect that things will go back to normal immediately.  Coming out of today’s meeting of the National Oversight Committee, it is anticipated that some of the restrictions will be relaxed, such as the re-opening of hotel restaurants and use of its facilities. But curfew hours, we are told, will remain the same. Director of Health Services says that we must be vigilant and active in our preventive measures because the number of active cases is growing all around us. The recent statistics published from the Meso-American region shows almost seventy-thousand active cases and just across the border to the north, there are over thirty-five thousand cases in Mexico. Here’s the story with Andrea Polanco.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

It’s been twenty-eight days since Belize last recorded an active case of COVID-19. This signals a completion of the first wave of the virus in Belize. Doctor Marvin Manzanero Director of Health Service summarizes a timeline with the announcement of this milestone in Belize’s containment of the novel corona virus.


Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“We are here seven weeks after we announced our first case and four weeks since we last documented a case of COVID-19. And four weeks ago we were actually reporting four new cases. So, if you go back to that timeline within three weeks we went from one to eighteen and over the last four weeks we haven’t had a case. We had also said that after twenty-eight days, which is two sets of fourteen days, of the maximum incubation period of SARS-COVID2 we would have been able to tell everybody that we would have seen to contain the first wave of COVID-19. So, we are pleased to announce that today, twenty-eight days after we last documented a case.”


Belize recorded eighteen active cases of COVID-19. There were nine females and nine males. Two of those COVID-19 positive males died. The sixteen other patients have recovered. While Belize has only two deaths out of eighteen cases, this would put the mortality rate at eleven percent – but Manzanero says we’d want to put that number in perspective with the number of cases.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“That’s a tricky situation if you want to compare what Chetumal is they had five deaths in sixteen cases or something like that. So, once your numbers are too low, doing an automatic two divided by eighteen it is not the way you would want to do that. You will do by rates per million or rates per a hundred thousand. I think that’s a better definition so that you are able to compare with other countries.”


And while Belize has contained its first wave – there are spikes in cases across the region. This infographic updated this morning shows the number of cases in the Meso-American region, which includes Central America, Mexico, Colombia and Dominican Republic as sixty-nine thousand nine hundred and seventy-five with a total number of deaths at four thousand seven hundred and thirty-two. Mexico leads with the number of active cases at thirty-five thousand and twenty-two and a total of three thousand five hundred and sixty-five deaths up until ten o’clock this morning – putting their mortality rate below Belize’s, at about ten percent. Manzanero cites Belize’s containment as a direct result of measures taken but warns that the growing number of active cases in the region makes us susceptible to subsequent waves.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“We cannot lose sight however of what is happening in Mexico that’s having escalating numbers as their curve continues to grow. Guatemala continues to report increasing numbers as thus Honduras and El Salvador. We are right now in a bubble I would say because all countries in the regions are having increasing numbers. I can tell you that in the last few days we have had people from the different regions calling to find out what Belize has done in terms of our timeline and containment measures. We are where we are because of our good contact tracing; good public health measures that was established routinely and also all the measures that we have taken as a community and as a government that took us to a lock down and some of that has started to be scaled down.”


And now that the twenty-eight days have elapsed – what does this mean for the Belizean public and how will the country proceed? Manzanero explains.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“Just like there was a gradual scale up in terms of the lockdown – it is the same situation. It doesn’t mean that at day twenty-eight everything goes back to being normal. We are being very cautious recommending that the scaled down happening in a scaled approached. You are not going to open everything immediately because we are still treading carefully as we move along. We don’t want that to seem like a recess that you let everything go and then everything goes back to being normal.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


The recommendations for some ease of restrictions will go to cabinet on Tuesday and then announced. We’ll have more on that later in the newscast.

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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