Belize health authorities are raising the alarm of yet another wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has so far killed 688 people and infected 69, 376 others since the first case was detected two years ago.
For the second consecutive week, the number of people infected with COVID here has jumped by more than 100 and between the weeks of December 6 and 12, the country recorded more than 259 new cases.
“In week 49, which is just the first week of December, there has been an increase. And if you notice the infographic from yesterday, you would see that the positivity rate has gone to 9.9%. This is a significant jump. There are many reasons for this.
“We have not only been seeing an increase in COVID cases in homes, but we have had an outbreak at Kolbe, the prison and that has accounted for a significant increase for the Belize District,” said the Director of Public Health Services at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa.
“So for the Belize District for the COVID cases, we have gone up from about two per cent to the last week going up to almost 16 or 17 per cent. And so that is the reason why we have seen the significant jump. The prison had about 42% to 43% positivity rate last week”
Dr. Diaz-Musa said the authorities have had experience in the last two years dealing with outbreaks at the prison.
But she is concerned that the country is experiencing yet another wave of COVID-19.
“Yes it is, definitely. We’ve seen our positivity rate in a week has gone from 2% to 9.9%. The difference is that we have not seen significant hospitalizations, but if we leave it to just continue to spread, we may then start to see increase in hospitalizations and we need to protect the integrity of our health system,” she said.
“We need to ensure that we protect the vulnerable persons so that we don’t see an increase in hospitalizations and that we see a reduction in the transmission of this virus,’ she said, adding “We need to do additional measures to ensure that we reduce these numbers of whatever illnesses it is, but more so for COVID-19.”
The authorities say that more than the 221 active cases are not being treated and Dr. Diaz-Musa said it is important for people to get vaccinated.
“We continue to encourage public health measures. There is absolutely nothing that is mandated; there is not a mandate to wear masks, but we encourage that if you do have an elderly person in the household, if you do work with the elderly or vulnerable population, you should wear your mask. You may be asymptomatic, but you can still transmit COVID.
“This is something that we’ve got to take our personal responsibility and make the determination whether or not you would wear your mask,” she said, adding that, “We also recommend that if you do have a cough, a cold, you have body aches, you have fever, notify your employer, keep your masks on and get tested.”
“We have all our health facilities continue to perform tests, it is easily accessible and we are asking that you continue to check because you might have very little symptoms or mild symptoms, but somebody who is more vulnerable and whose body is not able to fight the virus as good as you can might not be as lucky,” the health official said.