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Aug 21, 2020

A Teenage Girl Tests Positive at Dorothy Menzies; but How Did She Contract COVID-19?

There is anxiety at the Dorothy Menzies Child Care Centre tonight as they await results of a batch of tests taken from children at the institution.  One teenager has tested positive and eight others have been placed in isolation after exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus.  There are twenty-three resident children and so there is a high level of concern about a possible spread.  The Human Services Department says that all protocols are in place at this time to minimize risks among the residents.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

As of today, there are now eighty-two confirmed positive cases of the novel coronavirus in Belize City and data is being analysed to determine whether there is in fact community spread in the Old Capital. But there is a worrisome situation at the Dorothy Menzies Childcare Centre where one minor has tested positive, eight others, who are symptomatic, have also been swabbed, but their results are pending.


Elswith Chevez

Elswith Chevez, Acting Director, Human Services Department

“Several residents displayed cold-like and cough symptoms and as part of that the caregivers took them to the public hospital to do the necessary procedure. During that time, two of them were swabbed for COVID-19 and immediately they were placed in the isolation and quarantine section. A few days later, we got information that the test came back positive. And because of that, even further and stricter measures were put in place. The other ones, either yesterday or the day before, they were also swabbed and we now await their results.”


Duane Moody

“They too have been isolated?”


Elswith Chevez

“From the time last week that they started with the cold-like symptoms, they were all put in the isolation area.”


The minor is a teenage girl who shared quarters with at least one other person. Since the lockdown in March, visitations were cancelled and the resident minors were not allowed to leave the compound. But it is possible that the COVID-positive teenager contracted the virus during the month of July when they were allowed to leave the compound off Saint Thomas Street to attend summer classes.


Elswith Chevez

“They haven’t gone anywhere. The staff that comes in take their temperature.”


Duane Moody

“At no point was this child out of the facility over, say, the past month?”


Elswith Chevez

“I cannot say that because when the state of emergency was lifted, since March to July they had been confined. So you could understand adolescents and wanting to get out. I know that some of them did partake in some summer class at an institution so we don’t know.”


Marvin Manzanero

…and so, the Ministry of Health has commenced its contact tracing, mapping exercise.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“Contact tracing had started from middle of the week because once you have a suspect case; you don’t necessarily have to wait for the result. And specifically because you are speaking about two vulnerable situations there—one is the children that are there in the amount and you know daycare centres, centres where you care for the elderly, prisons—they are populations where you can have situations that can escalate very quickly. But I don’t have the report of that contact tracing.”


From the onset of the pandemic, caregivers and staff at the childcare centre received training and an isolation area was identified by health officials in the case of a positive patient at the institution.  Acting Director of the Human Services Department, Elswith Chevez says that since last week, when a number of the resident children began exhibiting flu-like symptoms, they were placed in isolation and quarantined on the ground floor of the building, away from the other resident minors. That protocol will stand going forward.


Elswith Chevez

“The entire quarantine and isolation area is completely locked off so the only ones that have access to that area are the caregivers. Earlier in this year, the ministry staff as well as the institution’s were trained on how to work along with the pandemic. They were taught how to use the P.P.E.’s because that is something new to us. So they have a lot of knowledge of what they are supposed to do. That isolation area was identified by the Ministry of Health. Earlier this year, we took them around and they designated that area in the event that this would happen at the institution. If you ever visited the institution, it is the ground floor. That is a wide space. Like I said, the public health officials identified that because of the ventilation—it has proper ventilation—so several residents can do that social distancing while they are there in quarantine and isolation area. So while that may be of concern, they are properly in that space that they should be to cause any further contraction of the virus.”


There are a total of twenty-three resident minors at the institution. Those who are not suspect cases are on the upper flat of the main building; their caregivers do not attend to those who are in isolation isolated.  Duane Moody for News Five.

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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