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May 27, 2020

Scaling Down Random Testing for COVID-19 in Belize

The Ministry of Health is scaling down its random testing for the coronavirus now that it is in week-seven without any new cases. The ministry has been randomly swabbing and testing persons, specifically frontline workers from healthcare facilities, immigration and customs officers at entry points as well as police to check if there are any positive cases of COVID-19.  So far, those tests have all returned negative and the recommendation is for the scaling down on the number of testing days. Director of Health Services Doctor Marvin Manzanero speaks about the testing approach going forward.


Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“It is still ongoing since the last cases that we have reported more than six weeks ago. We have duplicated the number of tests that have been done and almost all of that has been as a result of random sampling. But we are having what’s called a low yield, or no yield even, because we are not finding any cases. So we are going to scale down the number of testing days from three to two as of next week. We are still going to continue to actively look for people who may have any severe acute respiratory illness or any of those symptoms that have been described for COVID-19; those patients will be swabbed and samples checked. But in terms of the random sampling, since we are not finding any cases, we may have to scale that down. We have the ability now to do close to six thousand tests, if not more, with some reagents still pending to come in. But it doesn’t mean that you would just squander your six thousand. Remember you have to potentially scale up your testing once you identify any more cases. Some cases in the Central American region have expressed that they are running low or they don’t have supplies to be doing PCR testing. Same concern has been expressed by Caribbean counterparts so that routinely, they are not recommending that we do random sampling on people that are asymptomatic and that’s part of why we are scaling down our testing approach.”

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