The Government has approved the establishment of a “COVID-19 Enforcement Unit”, this week’s Cabinet brief announced.
The unit is to help government better control the outbreak of COVID-19. As part of the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), the enforcement unit’s primary mandate is “to oversee responsibilities for the maintenance of supervision and enforcement of COVID-19 protocols in all businesses and other establishments.”
The decision follows weeks of increasing COVID 19 cases, with the country’s positivity rate for October 6th being reported by MOHW at 14.8 percent—a rate that is close to ten percentage points higher than the target five percent threshold advised by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to a June 2021 WHO guidance note, positivity rates between five and 20 percent are among the key indicators that a country is at Community Transmission Level 3 (CT-3).
The WHO defines CT-3 as a situation where there is “High incidence of locally acquired, widely dispersed cases in the past 14 days; transmission [is] widespread and not focused in population sub-groups. [There is a] high risk of infection for the general population.”
As of October 6th, the ministry also reported 52 hospitalizations. This figure indicates that Belize’s hospitalization rate—measured as number of hospitalizations per 100,000 persons per week—has jumped to 12 per 100,000 persons. From October 1st to 6th, the country’s hospitalization rate has averaged about 11.6 hospitalizations per 100,000.
Like the positivity rate, the WHO also advises that hospitalization rates between 10 and 30 per 100,000 of the population per week are also indicative of Community Level 3.
The coexistence of the aforementioned COVID-19 statistics and a healthcare system with limited Surge Capacity augurs stricter public health measures to ameliorate the strain on the medical institutions.
The Cabinet brief also noted that “as of 3rd October 2021, 198,580 persons or 48 percent had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 139,157 persons or 34 percent have been fully vaccinated.”