Kyle A. Habet MD, Diomne Habet BA, Gliselle Marin MConBio
Belize is a small Caribbean country in Central America with limited resources in public health. Amidst a global pandemic, urgent attention was given to mitigating the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in order to prevent a public health catastrophe. Early intervention on a national level was key to preventing the importation of cases and subsequent community transmission. Limiting the conglomeration of people, implementation of curfews, closures of school and universities, government-mandated social distancing, and extensive contact tracing may have mitigated the exponential spread of COVID-19.
Mandatory mask-wearing in public may have helped to prevent spread between asymptomatic carriers to susceptible individuals. A low population density may have also contributed to containing the virus.
The information gathered in this article includes official press releases from the Government of Belize, statistics from the Ministry of Health’s website, and internet searches on Pubmed and the World Health Organization.
Belize has a population of approximately 408, 000 people.1 It consists of six districts and over 200 islands, including three island municipalities. The first confirmed case of SARS-Co-V-2 (COVID-19) was diagnosed in Belize on March 23rd 2020. However, anticipatory measures to mitigate the spread of the virus were taken before the first case was confirmed.2
During the outbreak, drastic measures were taken to prevent exponential spread of the virus. These measures are described below. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 was on March 23rd , 2020.3 On April 14th the last confirmed positive case was reported. After 20 days with no new confirmed cases, the economy was reopened. The reopening was not a complete return to normal because mask-wearing in public and social distancing guidelines were enforced by law. Belize reached zero active cases on May 5th 2020.
The World Health Organization has outlined six guidelines to transitioning to and maintaining a steady state of low-level or no transmission in its Strategy Updates.4 Many of the recommendations in the WHO’s plan were implemented by Belize and may have led to a successful handling of the pandemic in the country.
Read the full article here.