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May 21, 2020

M.O.H. & S.I.B. Partner Up for COVID-19

Russell Manzanero

To help complement the work of the health staff, the ministry says they needed some help to make it easier to manage the cases and the country’s response. By the time the fourth or fifth case came around, the ministry got a big help from the Statistical Institute of Belize. They helped to create digital applications to use to store, share and track information. These applications have helped the team in its surveillance efforts and cut down the paper work involved and human contact. Epidemiologist Russell Manzanero explains how that support helped them to manage the first wave.


Dr. Russell Manzanero, Epidemiologist, MOH

“The S.I.B. has been very helpful in creating different applications to follow with surveillance. I believe a lot of it has been highlighted already and a lot of it does come down to surveillance and how we want to manage the cases. We do know that in countries that have managed to flatten that curve, there is a lot of technology behind it. But the technology behind in itself is what do we do with surveillance and how do we use the surveillance behind that to actually further identify those cases, isolate, test them and start the mitigation process. Indeed, there were different applications that came out that we did that we are using. Just to highlight some of the few that we do know of, for example, to go back when we talk of contact tracing and those individuals doing it on a manual basis, along with SIB, the creation of a Persons Under Investigation mobile version was created.  This now is a version that they can go out and do contact tracing of those individuals under investigation without the use of paperwork. Ideally, what it does, is that after you do contact tracing the information that is gathered and once it is synced or you have wifi available, we here at the Ministry will actually get it in real time. The S.I.B. also facilitated, along with the team here, the creation of the dashboard where we can follow those individuals in real time. The E.O.C. that was created here was operating to receive calls where in the beginning hundreds of calls were coming in and to do the triage of the individuals that were coming in again that was being looked at. We reached out to S.I.B. to see how we could make it easier to get an application of how individuals would be calling in and be triaged so that they can be tiered or triaged into different groups and now that is created. We are also working with the S.I.B. for another component of surveillance that we use for preparation for health systems to see the bed capacity – what I am talking about is a modeling interface that has been created for when we have outbreaks again and to be able to give a forecast of how the situation would look in the country.”

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