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Nov 29, 2021

New Omicron Variant Not in Belize; Delta Predominant Strain

The news spread like wildfire last week that a new variant had been detected in South Africa. Omicron is more transmissible, but so far, cases are milder in terms of symptoms. The concern though is that more people infected could mean more hospitalizations. Omicron has not been detected in the region and the predominant variant in Belize is the delta. Doctor Melissa Diaz-Musa shares what information is known so far and that the Central Medical Lab in Belize would be able to detect the omicron variant through its gene sequencing process.


Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa

Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, Deputy Regional Health Manager, Central Health Region

“WHO keeps giving us enhanced technical advice on how we can get our countries ready for omicron and I think that a lot is still being researched because as you rightly said, yes there is evidence that it is more transmissible and we do know in a short period of time, it has become the dominant variant in South Africa. But some of the researchers and scientists have said that in South Africa, for example, the cases do appear to be more milder. The problem is the increase in transmissibility. If you have more people infected, you will have more hospitalizations. Central Medical Lab has started doing gene sequencing on our own here in Belize; before we were sending it away. We do gene sequencing, I believe, two times a month and we do about forty-fifty samples. We have just been speaking with CML to try to increase this. So we want to enhance our surveillance, but not only surveillance with rapid testing, we need to get the PCRs done on positive cases so that the lab can gene sequence it and let us know whether or not we do have omicron in country. Our lab is able to detect this so this is something that they will hopefully start to run quickly.”

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