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Jan 5, 2023

No Lines at Vaccination Centers as COVID-19 Numbers Increase

There has been a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past five weeks. A recent release from the Ministry of Health and Wellness states that projections from the Epidemiology Unit at the ministry show a rise in cases into the New Year, with a peak by mid-January. The release went on to say that although the number of hospitalized cases has not overloaded the health system, there is always the possibility of this happening if public health measures are not being followed. The recent increase in COVID-19 cases has brought Belize’s fifty-one percent COVID-19 vaccination coverage into sharp focus. While fifty-one percent of vaccine coverage shows significant progress, it is not enough to prevent a massive breakdown in the health system in the event of widespread infections. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

For many, the COVID-19 virus no longer poses a serious threat; however, a country with a low vaccination uptake remains at high risk. Across the country, mass gatherings and other social events are being held with little regard for the spread of COVID-19. This has resulted in an increase in confirmed cases.


Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer

Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer, Maternal & Child Health Technical Advisor, M.O.H.W.

“If we look at the number of cases, the last five weeks, we went from sixty-nine cases n one week, to two hundred and fifty-nine, two ninety-nine, two seventy-one, and now we are at two twenty-eight in the last week. If we look at what happened in the last weeks, we had a lot of celebrations on family level, at work places, because of the season.”


The use of facemasks is no longer mandated by law, neither are Belizeans required to remain six-feet apart in public spaces. And, by relaxing these regulations, practicing preventative measures has become an individual responsibility.


Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer

“Sometimes we say oh they are family so we are ok, so none of us use mask, or they are friends so it is ok if we don’t use masks. But, really and truly you don’t know where each person was and who they had contact with previously. So, it is individual responsibility to protect ourselves against the virus and here is the importance of the vaccine, because the vaccine confers protection when one comes in contact with the virus.”


Belize’s vaccination rate currently stands at fifty-one percent. The unfortunate reality is that there has been a significant decline in the number of people getting vaccinated. In Belize City, COVID-19 vaccines are available at the Cleopatra White Polyclinic and the Matron Roberts Polyclinic. When we visited both health facilities just before midday today, there was no one in line to get vaccinated. At the time, the nurses at Cleopatra White Polyclinic had administered only two doses of vaccines for the morning. Four doses had been administered over at Matron Roberts Polyclinic. The significant decline in the vaccine uptake is alarming because, with only fifty-one percent of the country’s population vaccinated, another outbreak can prove detrimental to Belize’s health system.


Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer

“I would limit as much as possible mass gatherings and if you need to have mass gatherings it should be short and sweet. At this point many countries have COVID-19 vaccination coverage between eighty, ninety percent or more, and in some of the Caribbean countries it is almost a hundred percent that is already vaccinated with two doses. So, it is expected that with the access to vaccines countries should not have to face another wave like the one we had in 2021.”


Paul Lopez

“In Belize with fifty-one percent, there is a chance we could face those things if we don’t increase that.”


Dr. Natalia Beer,

“We are not in a good position that is why we continue to encourage the uptake of the vaccine to protect against COVID-19.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez

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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