When it broke out in neighboring countries, the Influenza A H1N1 (AKA Swine flu) alarmed residents and leaders of Belize, forcing the Ministry of Health (MOH) to implement their health surveillance in the country. After the possible pandemic threat died down in the discussion of the general public, it was an unexpected announcement late on Tuesday evening when the MOH stated that the first five cases of Influenza A H1N1 in Belize had been confirmed.
According to the MOH these results were received on Tuesday through our reference laboratory CAREC. The Ministry stated that all five positive cases came from the Corozal District and was linked to the casinos in the Corozal Free Zone. While the news is enough reason to be worried, the MOH went on to explain in their press release that these individuals have been treated and are recovering at home.
What does this mean for Belize and the MOH? Well according to the press release, the MOH will continue to heighten surveillance and awareness campaigns to contain the situation. The MOH says that they continue to encourage the public to continue washing hands with soap and water, covering your mouth when coughing, and seeking medical attention if you present any flu-like symptoms and to stay at home until your symptoms are resolved.
The MOH confirm that they are awaiting the results of fifteen other suspected cases with the majority of which presented mild flu-like symptoms. And while the Ministry awaits those results, they also stated that there is no need at this time to limit any mass gatherings.
The MOH says that the quick detection and response is a result of the heightened and the increased surveillance which the Ministry had put in place at the initial response to Influence A H1N1.