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Jul 13, 2022

Public and Private Doctors Hold Different Views on Mask Mandate

There’s a new Omicron sub-variant now spreading in Belize and it is characteristically more vaccine-resistant than previous sub-lineages. And while the number of new infections is expected to rise in Belize, one reactive measure you should not expect to see is another lockdown of the country. Today Prime Minister John Briceño told reporters assuredly that there will not be any re-implementation of any of the restrictions that held through for most of 2020 and 2021. That’s because while it’s contagious, its symptoms are less severe and don’t last as long as the other more serious variants. But while the doctors in the public sector have not recommended the mandatory use of masks, one internist in the private sector feels that we should revert back to wearing our masks by law. News Five’s Marion Ali has a report on what we can expect from this new variant and what we should and should not be doing in order to avoid catching it.


Marion Ali, Reporting


Prime Minister John Briceño

Prime Minister John Briceño

“The new variant spreads faster, but it is less dangerous, and thirdly, the infectious rate is down from five days to between one and three days, so the Ministry of Health has recommended to Cabinet yesterday to remove all the restrictions that we’ve had.”


While the new Omicron sub-variant comes with all the symptoms that other COVID variants inflict, it is not considered to be as deadly a virus as the Alpha and Delta strains. But what is unsettling about the Omicron BA Five sub-lineage is that it has shown to be vaccine-resistant, so we’re more prone to endure the symptoms.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist

“It’s able to hide from the antibodies that you got through the natural infection and vaccines. Soh ih transmissible same way, but ih could hide out better against the killers that the immune system develops against the virus. So that is why people can become infected again with this BA Five in a shorter amount of time. For example, you could have had COVID a month ago and yoh could catch COVID again with this new variant. Thankfully, this variant like the other Omicrons nuh as deadly, meaning that ih nuh di kill wa whole lotta people and mek deh end up eena the ICU. And incubated and soh.”


While Prime Minister John Briceño says the government will not reintroduce any restrictions, they are advising everyone to stay safe, nonetheless.


Dr Melissa Musa

Dr Melissa Musa, Director of Public Health and Wellness

“We have not made any recommendations to put back a mask mandate, but we are encouraging persons, especially in crowded indoor spaces to take on the responsibility and wear your masks because it’s in crowded places that you tend to get infected if somebody sneezes, if somebody starts to cough and they don’t have on their mask. You need to make sure that you have on your mask.”


Prime Minister John Briceno

“The Ministry of Health is going to continue with a very aggressive campaign – the mask-wearing when necessary, physical-distancing, washing your hands, and also testing when necessary.”


Internist, Dr Fernando Cuellar, a private medical practitioner, differs with the government.


Dr Fernando Cuellar, Internist

“I wudda be the first fi seh let us make masks mandatory again, done. Nobody wa lose face, nobody wa shame face. Nothing is wrong for you to say let us step back again, and we wa put mask back and continue to push the vaccines. They look at us in the medical field as being overcautious perhaps, or too jumpy or too fraida, but let us use at least the mask. We nuh wa close the borders and we nuh wa restrict visitors. That nuh necessary at this time.”


While the Omicron BA Five variant tends to resist the antibodies it encounters in the body, there are fewer hospitalizations and deaths because it does not cause severe respiratory difficulties as previous variants.


In the event there are other vaccines recommended for these sub-variants as the COVID virus continues to mutate, Dr. Melissa Musa, who is now the Ministry of Health’s Director of Public Health and Wellness, assured the media today that the government is already looking into working in groups with other nations to be able to access those vaccines, if necessary.                                             



Marion Ali 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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