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Aug 31, 2020

Can Rapid Tests Be Used for Mass Testing in Belize?

Marvin Manzanero

Last week Friday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced that Belize will be using the Abbot Rapid Test which will be rolled out for the P.G.I.A. reopening on October first.  Today, we asked DHS Manzanero for some clarification on how those tests will be administered – and if it can eventually be used for mass testing in country. Here’s how he explains it.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“Initially we had said we were going to use two rapid tests for foreigners coming through the safety corridor, not for Belizeans. We said we are going to use PCR Test for Belizeans arriving. Of course, Science evolves and evidence changes, rapid test themselves improved. If you go back to what we said in March, we had anticipated that by the end of May we would have had rapid test that would have high level of sensitivity and specificity – that didn’t happen. But through-out last week we got a note from PAHO indicating that there was one test showing some promise in terms of sensitivity and specificity, which interestingly was one of two tests we were already in process of validating which we were going to be using with tourists. So, based on that and contingent on what our validation process which is currently happening allows us to find out, then we should be able to use rapid test. In the first instance, we are thinking of communities that would have active community transmission, San Pedro and some communities in Orange Walk. Go out and do field test if you will if we are finding results with high levels of sensitivity and specificity then we should be able to roll it out maybe for even those Belizean repatriates before October and maybe that might be the thing that we find that works for when the airport opens. We are going to be testing it in the field towards the end of the week and it is being tested right now in the lab and see how that will go.”


Andrea Polanco

“So, is it safe to say then that this rapid test may be used for mass testing?”


Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“Eventually if we find out and there is evidence outside of Belize along with the evidence that we find here, yes.”

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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