Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Belize prepares for stricter COVID-19 measures; makeshift hospital erected in the capital


News is that Prime Minister Honourable John Briceño will address the nation today regarding COVID-19 and introduce new regulations. As the country awaits the anticipated message, the situation with COVID-19 is worrisome, with an increase in cases and deaths. A field hospital has been erected at the University of Belize gymnasium to prepare for the worst and support the health department.

Prime Minister, Honorable John Briceño

The Prime Minister will allegedly introduce a series of regulations to help contain the spike in positive cases. One of these is a 7PM curfew. In areas of the country that largely depend on tourism, this could mean a shutdown of that industry and the loss of thousands of jobs. This worries residents and coastal communities like Placencia, Hopkins, Caye Caulker, and La Isla Bonita San Pedro Town, Ambergris, where tourism has seen a slow comeback. Islanders on Ambergris Caye are bracing for the worst. But the word going around is that most of these new regulations will spare the islands.

Another speculation is that there will be a complete lockdown on Sundays. Considered a family day in Belize, no one would be allowed on the streets. Anyone caught outside should expect immediate arrest by the police. These rumors are based on information leaked from meetings. The truth will be known when Prime Minister Briceño delivers his official address.

Makeshift hospital in the Capital City

Early this morning, members of the US Southern Command and Belizean authorities were observed erecting a field hospital at the UB gymnasium in Belmopan City. Unofficial information is that this field hospital will be used for COVID-19 patients. The country’s main referral hospital, Belize City’s Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), is reportedly at full capacity. If more people continue getting ill with the virus, additional facilities to treat COVID patients will be needed. This field hospital will be prepared for such use in case the national health system becomes unsustainable.

The field hospital is a donation via the US Embassy in Belize. An official handover ceremony is set for Friday, September 17th in the Capital City.

COVID-19 numbers on the rise

The latest COVID-19 data countrywide indicates a total of 1,419 confirmed positive cases as of Tuesday, September 14th. A total of 383 deaths, nine of these occurred over the weekend. Currently, there are 39 active hospitalizations and ten persons in the Intensive Care Unit at the KHMH. The situation is getting critical as other health services are being jeopardized to tend to COVID-19 patients.

Vaccination campaign continues

Of note is that the Ministry of Health and Wellness has said that those falling severely ill with the disease and dying are unvaccinated patients. While a large population is doing their part by getting the injection against COVID-19, a large portion of Belizeans are hesitant to get the jab. The percentage of the entire population vaccinated is below 20%. The total number of persons who have received their first dose of the vaccine is 177,480 and those fully vaccinated are 83,703.

Lines of people outside the San Pedro vaccination center

The areas that seemed to be inclined to get vaccinated were people in the Cayes. San Pedro has seen a large volume of people heading to the vaccination centers across the island to get their first or second injection dose. Unofficially, it is believed that Ambergris Caye is nearing 50% of their population being vaccinated.

The Government of Belize and MOWH continue to implore Belizeans to adhere to the health protocols and get vaccinated. There is plenty of vaccine doses in the country at the moment at no cost. The different vaccines available to the public include AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson.

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