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Jan 9, 2023

Director of Public Health on COVID Infections and Misinformation

It is the second week in 2023 and countries across the globe continue to fight high rates of COVID infections. China, the United States, and the United Kingdom are all now reporting increased cases of COVID-19. In Belize, there was a spike in confirmed cases over the last few weeks in December, and into the New Year. That infection rate is reportedly trending downward after peaking. Last Thursday, the Ministry of Health and Wellness issued a press release cautioning people against the spread of Covid-19 misinformation, after a text message that went viral led many to believe that a variant five-times more deadly than Delta had been identified in Belize. It is suspect that those fears were driven by the increased number of confirmed cases reported over the last five weeks. Today, we heard from Doctor Melissa Diaz Musa, the Director of Public Health and Wellness at the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

 

Dr. Melissa Diaz Musa, Director of Public Health and Wellness, M.O.H.W.

Dr. Melissa Diaz Musa

“In Belize we have experienced six waves to date. The first two was from the original variant, the third from Delta, and the fourth, fifth, and sixth from Omicron and its sub-lineages. As more information was discovered about COVID-19 and with the introduction of vaccines, countries were able to modify their response and Belize did the same. We had seen quite high fatality rates of COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic and for the first two years. And, as that started to plateau due to the introduction of vaccines as well as to the lesser severity of the Omicron variant, we were able to remove all public health measures and restrictions with regard to COVID on July fourteenth 2022. The Omicron variant Ba5 and its descendant lineages remain predominant globally for the end of 2022 and 2023. Although the Ba5 sub variants are dominant at this time, it has been denoted that four new sub variants are rapidly increasing in a number of cases. So far we know to date that there is no epidemiological evidence that these sub-lineages, particularly XBV and BQ.1 will be of any greater risks compared to other Omicron sub-lineages. The reproduction number, what we call the RO and tells us how many persons would get infected from one person. For Omicron it was five and now for its sub-lineages, this number has gone up to fifteen. So, if one person is positive they have the potential to infect fifteen other persons with the exact virus. So that speaks of the transmissibility of the Omicron variant and its sub-lineages.”


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