Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Flu infections continue to rise on the island

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San Pedro Town has been experiencing a wave of acute respiratory infections (flu), which in some cases have reportedly been associated with the COVID-19 virus. Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II has been busy tending to many islanders suffering from flu. As such, residents are encouraged to use face masks in enclosed areas and seek medical attention when feeling unwell.
The latest information provided by the Epidemiology Unit at the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) reports up to the epidemiology week number 41, which ended on October 14th. The bar charts below show the totals for San Pedro for 2022 and 2023 through week 41. As illustrated in the charts, there is a significant difference between infections and the number of persons infected below and above the age of five.
As per the illustration, in October of last year, at week 41, there were 77 respiratory illnesses in persons under five. This year, the number of confirmed infected children is 265. The number of persons ages five and above with flu-like infections through week 41 last year was 127. This year, that number has ballooned to 532 cases on the island alone.
While most of these cases are attributable to the COVID-19 virus, particularly its variants, the MOHW has confirmed that between 2022 and 2023, the country has been infected with the variants Omicron and the Omicron BA.5 sub-variant. When the Covid pandemic started in Belize in early 2020, the AstraZeneca vaccine was made available months after, followed by Pfizer and John & Johnson. For 2023 and 2024, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the updated COVID-19 vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax for better protection against illnesses caused by this virus. According to MOHW, Belize has not acquired these updated vaccines.
At the San Pedro Polyclinic, vaccines against the common flu and COVID-19 can be obtained during the week in the morning from 8AM to noon. COVID testing is also available for those wanting to know if they have been infected.
Since the pandemic in 2020, over 692,000 tests have been done with over 71,000 cases identified. Unfortunately, the disease has caused the death of 743 persons in Belize, primarily male patients.
Even though many Belizeans are vaccinated against these respiratory illnesses, people are encouraged to be cautious with this wave of flu infections. Authorities in San Pedro urge the public to follow the public health measures proven to help prevent the spread of these viruses. Practice good hand hygiene social distancing, and wear a face mask in crowded public places, especially indoors.

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