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Mar 9, 2023

PAHO Hold “3 Years of COVID-19’ Press Conference

In March 2020, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was detected in Belize. Since then, nearly seventy-one thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been recorded and a total of six hundred and eighty individuals have died from the virus in Belize. COVID-19 brought the local economy to a virtual standstill which led to economic contraction, an increase in poverty and a closure of several M.S.M.E.’s. In addition, students lost valuable time inside the classroom, inequalities among the most vulnerable communities increased and the lives and livelihoods of people were disrupted at an unprecedented rate. Three years later, a lot has improved, but according to Doctor Jarbas Barbosa, the Director of the Pan American Health Organization, (PAHO), now is not the time to be complacent. PAHO held a press conference today to reflect on the past three years of COVID-19.


Jarbas Barbosa

Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, Director, PAHO

“With this situation we cannot be complacent. As we learn to live with this virus countries must face, maintain, and continue to strengthen surveillance. We know that COVID-19 can evolve quickly. The risk of new variants is real. Testing rates have dropped but we must maintain monitoring and reporting this information to PAHO and global mechanisms. Secondly, we need to continue implementing COVID-19 vaccination programs, reaching out to the thirty percent who have yet to receive their primary series. So we have unfortunately many millions of people who haven’t had access to the first dose of COVID-19 in our region. That is a challenge for countries and PAHO is supporting these countries to address this very important topic. It is also important that the uptake for boosters continue to decline, but they are efficient in preparing ourselves for any new wave of infections or new variant of concern. Vaccines are now readily available so we must be determinant and vigilant to reach each and every single person. It is important in this regard that countries need to develop and implement a new strategy to provide more clear and transparent information to families in communities. It is also important to engage health professionals, because we need to use the vaccines now available to protect more people in our region, to save more lives, to avoid deaths that are still happening.”

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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