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Prime Minister of Belize’s Briefing: International Airport to Re-Open October 1, 2020

Before we get to the Press Conference/Briefing from the Prime Minister, two pictures that I just took on the beach.  A beautiful day on North Ambergris.

And now…

Here is what you most want to know:

THE PGIA/Belize’s International Airport IS RE-OPENING is OCTOBER 1, 2020

  • Complete confidence that the flow thru the PGIA (International Airport) will be ready
  • American Airlines will fly to Belize 5 days a week – every day but Tuesday and Thursday
  • United will fly to Belize on October 1st – every day
  • Delta to come by mid-to-lateNovember
  • THIS WILL NOT CHANGE BARRING A HURRICANE because the ABBOTT test will be a game-changer – Tourists will not bring test results but ideally bring this new test with them.
  • This new Abbott rapid should also mean that cruise ships should be easily able to test and get running in 2020  (qualified later…this is a HOPE)

I clearly need to read LOTS more about this Abbott test breakthrough.  Especially the timing…and when everyday folk can get their hands on this.

Read:  Abbott Labs $5 Rapid Test is a potential game-changer in Covid testing

Here’s a more detailed article from Science Magazine.  

Our Prime Minister sees “our stars starting to come back into alignment” on this news.

  • San Pedro quarantine date will most likely NOT go beyond the current expiration date of September 4 but may end sooner

My summary:  The airport will open October 1st – and that is good news.  It remains in the hands of the residents of Belize to do our best until then and after to continue to “stick to the rules”.  Distancing, masks, small groups, etc.  We know them all…we know that are not always easy…we need to do it to make sure we can get this economy going.

It’s not clear exactly what the guidelines and mandates will be for the reopening – will it be a phased re-opening?  Will there still be PCR testing required before travelers reach Belize?  We shall see…

Overview by the Ministry of Health:  Dr. Manzaneros (there are two of them, Russell and Melvin)

  • Remains driven by science – which, when it comes to this disease, that changes frequently as new data comes in
  • Yesterday, 52 new cases and our total of deaths stand at 12, 4 females, 8 males (only one of 12 over 65) – view the Dashboard here
  • Currently, 3 people are on ventilators in Belize City – 2 have been on for a week or more
  • No more backlog of samples anymore.  Turn around time is improving.
  • Continue social distancing, when you can’t, you MUST wear face mask.

Ministry of Health, Dr. Gough

  • An update on PPE and how funds are being spent, masks (one million in the warehouse), gowns, N-95 masks (11,000 and looking at 100,000 coming in for IDB and Taiwanese donors), gloves –> quite confident that we have enough for the next 9 months (worse case scenario)
  • Test Kits:  PCR Tests, stock to do 26,000 tests (“a comfortable point”); rapid antigen tests (5,000), procuring 10,000 more; rapid antibody test:  a stock of 7000 in-country
  • Special money will be paid to specially identified Front Line Health Care workers

Prime Minister’s Brief

A Good Deal About COVID Testing in Belize

  • We are overwhelmed by the amount of testing (both swabbing and test processing) that is needed right now.  In the best of times, the PCR tests have a turn-around of 18 to 24 hours.  Right now, some of our results are taking 4-5 days.
  • Antigen tests can be returned as quickly as 15 minutes but they are less reliable – NO rapid test has reached equivalency with the PCR test (and that is why we continue with the PCR test)
  • Yesterday, worldwide news about Abbott Rapid Test that is over 97% accurate
  • We, in Belize, must de-centralize testing – start testing in all parts of the country – and increase the daily number of samples tested and returned to patients
  • Must prioritize these tests for those who appear to be symptomatic and the contacts of confirmed patients
  • ANNOUNCEMENT:  We will start using Antigen Rapid tests for testing these people to help ease the load on the PCR testing
  • Will allow for fast positives so that tracing can begin (negatives will have to be retested either another rapid test or PCR – for false negatives)

 





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