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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Belize: "Talking Drums" on COVID-19

COVID-19 protocols are still in place, including wearing a properly fitted face mask in public.


When I visit family in Belize, there is always one relative who meets me without me telling them that I am going to be there.

How did they know?

Blood smell blood, Mami would say in Kriol.

Talking drums, Daddy would say.

Both were right.

Long before electrification, Belizeans knew how to spread stories and information all over Belize City, north to Corozal, and south to Punta Gorda.

However, now that there is the Internet, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is using it to amplify information to Belizeans about COVID-19. On January 31, the Ministry of Health launched the website:

The website gives information on the dates and location of vaccination sites in Corozal District; Orange Walk District; Belize District; Belmopan; San Ignacio; Stann Creek District; Toledo District; San Pedro, and Caye Caulker. It also gives vaccination statistics by population, age and district; a general definition of vaccines and, specifically, of COVID-19 vaccines; the four COVID-19 vaccines administered in Belize; possible side-effects; COVID-19 protocol; myths and facts about COVID-19, and six frequently asked questions, including the following:

“How have COVID-19 vaccines been developed so quickly?

“The development of a novel vaccine is a complex and lengthy process that on average takes 10 years. However, COVID-19 vaccines are the culmination of years of research in new technologies and have been built on lessons learned from work on SARS and MERS vaccines, as well as the developed Ebola vaccines.

“Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, institutions, commercial developers, and researchers around the world worked at an unprecedented speed and scale to develop safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in approximately 12-18 months from the start of the pandemic.”

The Central Health Region has been taking to the streets to vaccinate people in Belize City and the surrounding area, according to Breaking Belize News (January 24).

Vaccination Outreach Pop-Up, the Central Health Region is calling it. One day, they showed up at the corner of Queen Street and New Road in front of Simon Quan and across from the Queen Street Police Station.

“This morning, we were able to vaccinate approximately 50 persons, those who wanted their booster shot, those who needed their second dose, and we also did some first-timers,” said Emir Castenada, Health Educator at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Central Health Region.

Check the Ministry of Health website to find the whereabouts of a pop-up:

Belize has made vaccines available for children, aged 12 to 17, along with a booster shot three months after receiving the second dose, reported Breaking Belize News /February 8).

“The ministry has launched the initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, which will make arrangements to facilitate for easy access to the booster doses.”

The Ministry of Health called for Belizeans to get vaccinated but also reminded the public that COVID-19 protocols are still in place, including wearing a properly fitted face mask in public; frequent washing and sanitizing of hands; keeping a physical distance of six feet, and avoiding crowds and enclosed areas.

The Ministry of Health had to dispose of 52,000 AstraZeneca vaccines, which had reached their expiry date, reported News 5 Live (February 4).

However, Minister of Health and Wellness Kevin Bernard said that there are 102,000 Pfizer vaccines, which will not expire until the end of May. He encouraged those who have been vaccinated fully to come forward for a booster. There are a total of 290,000 available doses. Bernard said on News Five Live (February 20).

A total of 58.5 percent of the population of 400,000 had received a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; 51.8 percent had been vaccinated fully, and 9 percent had received a booster as of February 18, according to Our World in Data.

Seventy percent fully vaccinated is the goal of the Ministry of Health.

COVID-19 cases peaked with record-high cases in January but are possibly trending downward now, according to Breaking Belize News (February 8).

Epidemiologist Dr. Russel Manzanero stressed that the situation was still fluid due to the extremely infectious nature of the Omicron variant. However, if the current projections hold, Belize could see numbers return to pre-Omicron levels by the end of the month.

“If we continue as is with our public health measures, with our vaccination coverage, we can see that there will be numbers decreasing,” said Dr. Manzanero. “However, if we go back to being a little lax or we are not enforcing the use of the mask, we’re not getting our vaccines, then all these numbers can change.”

COVID-19 deaths from December 1, 2021, to February 18 totaled 63.

From the age 30 to 39, there were 3 deaths, all unvaccinated persons;

40-49: 6 deaths, 3 unvaccinated, and 3 fully vaccinated;

50-59: 9 deaths, 6 unvaccinated, 2 partially vaccinated, and 1 fully vaccinated;

60-69: 15 deaths, 13 unvaccinated, 2 fully vaccinated;

70-79: 11 deaths, 8 unvaccinated, 3 fully vaccinated;

80+:18 deaths, 9 unvaccinated, 1 partially vaccinated, and 8 fully vaccinated.

The pandemic has taken 641 lives as of February 18, according to the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

“Three hundred and twelve Belizeans died because of COVID, but they died without having a choice of a vaccine. That is important to point out,” said Minister of Health and Wellness Kevin Bernard on Channel 5 News Live (February 20). “We need to turn things around. And I am encouraging our Belize people out there: Let us get vaccinated.”

More questions?

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