Belize inching closer to WHO’s CT level 3 classification?

Belize’s COVID-19 positivity rate has since surpassed the five percent threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO), and if the trend continues Belize could soon be classified as being at what the WHO calls “Community Transmission Level Three” (CT3).

Based on the information produced by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), the country’s positivity rate—defined as the total number of positive COVID patients divided by the number of (new) COVID-19 tests—crossed the threshold on August 10th (when the rate was just below eight percent) and has remained above the benchmark up until Thursday, August 18th. During this period of time, only the August 12th results showed a rate below five percent.

According to WHO, if the positivity rate—which is one of several other indicators—remains elevated for a period of 14 days between 5 and 20 percent, this could signal that the country should be considered to be at CT3. The WHO describes CT3 as scenario where there is a “high incidence of locally acquired, widely dispersed cases in the past 14 days.” The WHO adds that this level is also marked by the fact that “transmission [is] widespread and not focused in population sub-groups”. There is also likely “high risk of infection for the general population.”

Speaking with the Reporter on Wednesday, Dr. Natalia Beer, the technical advisor, maternal and child health for the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), said, “Based on the last figures that were published we are at a 7 percent threshold. These figures have been ongoing for the past couple of weeks.”

Asked what those figures mean for the country, Beer said that she would rather not delve into the technicalities of it but would rather highlight the fact that there is a need for more preventative and stricter public health measures to be instituted.

Beer said, “The most important thing to remind the public at this point is that the transmission is from person to person, so you have to have had contact with a person that is positive to be positive. So again, working with colleagues, because you know each other, taking off our face masks and eating and talking together is dangerous, especially if the person happens to be asymptomatic. [Of concern are] persons that are sent for isolation and are waking on the street or persons that are recommended for quarantine and are still out in public. So it requires the compliance of each of us to contain this spread.”

Beer then went on to plead with the public to wear their face mask properly, wash hands regularly, or after coming in contact with persons or surfaces that may be contaminated. She reminded of the need to maintain physical distancing, which according to her seems to have been thrown through the window. She asked the public to refrain from attending or hosting social events and to be mindful that the country is still in the midst of a pandemic and the fact that there are three variants of concerns circulating.

Beer stated that despite the ministry’s effort to ramp up their vaccination campaigns across the country, they continue to see positive cases emerging from parties, wakes, funerals, and even more worrisome from within the public transportation system.

“We are expecting that together we can contain the spread of COVID-19 but it has to be everyone. If everybody was to do their part we could get this under control. Again, I reiterate let us do our part because this is not going to be forever.”

As of August 18th, there were 794 active cases in the country.

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