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CORONAVIRUS Not In BELIZE? MoH Examines Flu Cases in Corozal

CORONAVIRUS Not In BELIZE? MoH Examines Flu Cases in Corozal
January 31
12:34 2020

ON: Thursday – Jan. 30th –
Today Director of Health Services Marvin Manzanero told the Reporter that the Ministry of Health will be examining reports of two persons presenting flu-like symptoms in Corozal, though there is no indication at this time that either of them has the new strain of the Coronavirus, dubbed Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

According to the DHS, one Asian person in Corozal has flu symptoms and because of the paranoia surrounding the new strain of the Coronavirus, that person has been reported to the Corozal Health Department. The other person, says Manzanero, was in China weeks ago and is displaying flu symptoms, again prompting reports to the Corozal Health Department.

“While there is no evidence that either of these persons has the Coronavirus, we have to do our investigation in any case,” Manzanero told the Reporter. The Ministry of Health is not able to test for the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), but “We do testing for all respiratory viruses except this new one. We will have to have substantive evidence before we send the samples to the CDC in Atlanta. If the person meets all the criteria (through the process of eliminating other viruses and a proper screening) then we are allowed to send as a probably case,” Manzanero explained.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has activated its National Surveillance Team in the event the new strain, linked to cases of respiratory tract infections are detected in Belize. The virus originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, but even though that country is in the next hemisphere, it is also only two flights away, and local health authorities have already begun to issue precautions.

Coronavirus is a cousin of the SARS virus that has infected hundreds of people since the outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China in December. Scientist Leo Poon, who first decoded the virus, thinks it likely started in an animal and then spread to humans. Now the virus is passed on through human-to-human contact.

“The World Health Organization today declared the coronavirus outbreak in China a public health emergency of international concern, pointing to a significant increase in the number of cases and the disease’s spread to other countries. The designation, issued Thursday, came as the first person-to-person transmission of the virus was reported in the U.S.,” the Wall Street Journal reported today.

According to Manzanero, “We understand the concern. We will follow the same route we did as with the Ebola virus. There are many unknowns – we review the data in the morning and in the evening. The mortality rate does seem to be lower than the influenza virus going around. It may just be another routine virus going around. It appears to be less fatal than SARS but spreads easier.”

He confirmed that the National Surveillance Team has set up a screening process at the Phillip Goldson International Airports, and airlines are being required to submit their passenger manifests before entry, including the port of original origin of passengers. Those passengers who have been to China within the incubation period are asked to step aside and go through another screening process.

Coronavirus resembles pneumonia, with most patients having a fever and severe non-productive or a “dry cough”. Patients have also expressed difficulty breathing. Because it is a virus, there is no treatment for the disease.

The Health Ministry advises people to wash hands properly, using soap and clean running water before and after meals, after using the bathroom and before preparing food. The DHS also advises people to practice proper respiratory hygiene, which is to cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing.
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