Announced by Minister Chebat
$15 Million for Fighting COVID
The first Press Conference of the Briceño Administration placed priority where it should—curbing the spread of the killer virus which flourished under UDP no-plan policy. The community spread of the killer virus is presently totally unharnessed and Belize is experiencing numbers, that percentage-wise, are higher than that of our neighbours, at this point in time.
Our Government is even talking about returning the canoes to the flood-stricken residents of Santa Cruz village. Crossing the border into Mexico is still unlawful but the threat of the coronavirus is greater here in Belize. It is in our homes and no one is safe. Belizeans need to practise the protocols even beyond the requests made by government. The public use of mask mandated should be practised also in the homes especially when one is visiting the vulnerable Belizeans.
We are hearing of vaccines having success but we will see vaccinated tourists before we can see Belizeans getting inoculated. In the meantime, we need to increase our level of safety.
The fight against the coronavirus has been devoid of leadership up to this point. We will all now rally behind the PM, Minister Chebat and most importantly with our families and beat this virus. When or turn comes for the vaccine, we will have for the most part stopped the spread and be ready to annihilate it.
It is very worth mentioning that the Belize Community Pharmacists Association (BCPA) extended congratulations to the new Minister of Health, Michel Chebat and the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Deysi Mendez. They are one of the partners alluded to by Hon. Chebat that it would take to fight off the virus.
BCPA release: “Along with the Medical and Dental Association and Nurses, we Pharmacists daily interact with the general public on health matters. We are committed to face the present state of COVID threat now seeming out of control and offer all support to the Ministry of Health in our effort to overcome COVID,”
Ahead is Minister’s Chebat speech and more details.
Minister of Health and Wellness
Announces New Measures for COVID-19
Hon. Michel Chebat
November 26, 2020
Good Morning, I would like to start today expressing my sympathy to all our citizens who have lost family members and friends to this pandemic.
Additionally, I wish to thank all our Doctors, Nurses, Public Health Inspectors, Lab Technicians, Contract Tracers, and all our front-line workers for the tireless service they have been providing during this pandemic.
We assumed office a little over a week ago, and this is what we found:
- No clear strategic plan with budget.
- No testing strategy. Up to the end of July, MOH Headquarters decided who get tested, the personnel on the ground did not have much say in this.
- Processing of swabs for PCR was and still is centralized. This has resulted in a serious backlog of approximately 2,182 PCR’s at the Central Lab waiting to be processed.
- People being tested are not being given their results in time. This has contributed to the spread of COVID in the country.
- Despite a clear offer from BAHA and IAEA in April to assist with PCR testing to the MOH, this offer was not taken up. IAEA offered to purchase consumables for testing.
- Our government hospitals are not fully ready to deal with a surge in case should the need arise, this is despite the fact that the MOH had ample time to rectify and address the gaps.
- Ministry of Finance (MOF) reduced budget for all ministries including MOH by 40%. This despite the fact that MOH required to respond to the pandemic.
- Overtime for health workers
- Restriction in hiring of staff. MPS has request sitting there for months with requests from MoH for approval to hire new staff.
- Limited masks and PPE’s for HCW’s
- There was a lull during the lockdown for approximately 1 month when there were no cases reported. The previous administration should have used this time to develop a clear strategic plan to deal with the pandemic and equip the hospitals and healthcare workers with the needed supplies.
- Shortages of Doctors, Nurses, and testing equipment.
This is the card we have been dealt but this Government has, with the help of medical Experts and the Private and Public sector, created a plan moving forward.
We will do all we can do to curb the transmission. But this is not something we can do alone.
This will require the Private and Public Sector work h together, but in addition, it will require each of you to take this pandemic seriously and to change your behaviour.
This virus is being spread thought human contact.
On this past Tuesday, the Proposal for Surge Capacity and Containment of Covid-19 was presented to cabin6and approval was given for the injection of 15 million into the system.
- Improve Surveillance and Testing Capacities
- Immediate – implement and scale up the use of rapid test in all district hospitals for symptomatic and close contacts.
- Hire additional staff including (ex. laboratory technicians, lab aides, contact tracers and data entry clerks).
- Active Surveillance with Ministry of Health teams at private businesses.
- Establish testing sites outside of the hospital in accessible areas in urban communities and create two mobile swabbing teams for rural communities.
- Surge Capacity for Hospital Services
- Hiring of additional human resources such as nurses, doctors, specialist heath staff, support staff for deployment to all regional and community hospitals.
- Acquisition of additional medical equipment and supplies.
- National Public Health Measures for Containment
- Implement curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. for 21 days effective Saturday, November 28, 2020.
- Restriction of gatherings remains at 10 people at general public places, including the immediate household.
- Every organization is expected to implement work from home orders and/or staff shift rotation for employees.
- Provide food packages and stipend to families in quarantine in conjunction with the Ministry of Human Development, Families & Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs.
- Provide hotel for persons who cannot quarantine at home.
- Assess housing conditions to determine adequacy for isolation and/or quarantine.
- Enforcement of Quarantine Measures in conjunction with the Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries.
- Provide accommodation and other logistics for health care personnel.
- New Health Education Campaign to reach both public and private sector in collaboration with the media and Non-Governmental Organization.
- Restaurants without outdoor dining to have takeout and delivery service only.
- Outdoors restaurants are allowed to operate with a maximum of 12 persons.
- Churches can conduct service but it remains at 10 persons maximum
- Bars remain closed.
- Gymnasiums are to remain closed.