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Dec 31, 2020

M.O.H.W. Monitoring COVID-19 Mutation

Dr. Melissa Diaz

As we leave behind the dreadful 2020 year, we enter 2021 with a new strain of the COVID-19 virus. The new strain was first reported in the United Kingdom where it has been blamed for a sharp increase in cases. Although scientists say there is no evidence that the new strain is more deadly, the belief is that it could be up to seventy percent more transmissible than others. At least forty countries, including the entire European Union and Canada, have temporarily banned incoming travel from the U.K. as of Monday. In the U.S. California has become the second state to report a case of the mutated COVID-19 strain. However, health experts have stated that newly approved vaccines should still work against the variant. Here in Belize, acting Director of Health Services Doctor Melissa Diaz and her team are carefully monitoring the new strain of the virus. Doctor Diaz says that the ministry is being assisted by Baylor College to determine which strain of the virus is currently present in Belize.


Dr. Melissa Diaz, Acting Director of Health Services

“At this point, we do know that from earlier in the year there had been mutations of this virus. I think that the one from the UK has come to the forefront because of how infectious it is. But this is not the first mutation that has occurred. Mutation of a virus is a natural process. It is a slight change in the virus that may cause a different change. So we do know for instance the influenza virus. There are thousands of different strains of many different virus. We have been working with the Central Lab and there is the Baylor College here as well giving some assistance. They will be able to run some of the samples and determine which strain of the virus we are carrying here in Belize. But that has not been done so far but it is in the pipeline.”

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