The Ministry of Health and Wellness opened a new COVID19 testing site in Belize City today, after a sharp increase in the number of persons seeking to determine their COVID-19 status. The Belize District currently has the most cases. This spells more work for health care workers who already had to endure two waves of infections over the last two years. Yet, across the country, they press on to offer this critical service to Belizeans, which provides critical statistics that guide the decision making process at the national level. News Five's Paul Lopez visited the Swift Hall today where a new testing site has been opened. He also got some disturbing news about positivity rates.

Paul Lopez

“As we enter a new year, we have been met with a new COVId19 variant, and a wave of infection that has been sweeping across the nation. This has led to an increase in the demand for testing and the need for a new testing site in the Belize District.”

This testing site at the Swift Hall is being led by Lisa Tillett´┐Ż Moir, the Senior Health Inspector for the Belize District. She has been at the frontline of the fight against COVID19 since March of 2020.

Lisa Tillett Moir, Senior Health Inspector

"The first thing you have to do when you wake up in the morning is pray to the Almighty that you don't get COVID, and that alone puts a toll on your mind. Then after that it is the physical part of it. Then you have to deal with some people, people when they test positive they get so emotional and you have to console them and reassure them, because COVID is a mind thing. We have to let them know that they will be alright, just take the medication and do what you have to do"

Moir describes the last two years, for her and her team, as tiring. But, she says they must take it one day at a time.

Lisa Tillett Moir, Senior Health Inspector

" Sometimes when you get tired, when you come to work, it is a brand new face you are dealing with. So you know, we are just here for the public to ensure that we take care of the public. We try to work with them as best as we can. Yes, we can't please a hundred percent of them all the time. But, we do the best that we can, and the public see it and they recognize it."

Apart from the tiredness, there have been incidents reported where health care workers have also had to endure insults from persons waiting in line to be tested or to get their results. In fact, just over the course of the last twenty four hours a request was made to have a police officer stationed at all testing sites. But in terms of numbers, Dr. Melissa Diaz Musa says the previously established testing sites have become so inundated they had to open another one at Swift Hall, a venue used in 2021 as a vaccination site.

Dr. Melissa Diaz Musa,

"Testing, early isolation, early management, these are the things that will help us to ensure that we control the pandemic as quickly as possible and to control these waves. So, testing is very important. But, I also want to reach out to the general public and say, if you have close family members that have tested positive in the home and you have already started with mild symptoms, at this point we need to say that yes you have COVID and you need to remain at home."

The rate of detection at these testing sites in the Belize District is cause for alarm. Up to fifty percent of the persons who visit these sites are testing positive for COVID 19.

Lisa Tillett Moir, Senior Health Inspector

"Even without the clinical testing we can tell you that the new strain is here, because of the behavior that is seen at the testing sites. For example, we can tell you that we test like maybe around ten persons that are here, and we have five of them positive. So, fifty percent positivity rate, that is something for everyone to be alarmed about."

So, if there is reason for you to visit a testing site, there are some steps you can follow to protect yourself, those around you, and the health care workers you will come in contact with.

Dr. Mellissa Diaz Musa,

"We always advocate for our public health measures. No matter what the variant is, the public health measures work. They help and that includes wearing a well fitted mask over your nose and mouth, hand washing, sanitizing as best as possible and keeping your distance. Sometimes, and we are fighting against what comes natural to us as human beings. We like to socialize, when we see a friend we want to hug. Like is see pregnant women sometimes in the line, and people running up and hugging. It is very important at this time, when we see numbers going up, to avoid these things."

And keep those masks on. No matter how tired you may be of wearing them.

Lisa Tillett Moir, Senior Health Inspector

"I would d just like to ask the public, this is like the hundredth time, please wear your mask. I have been in this COVID fight from day one, and thank God so far, I haven't gotten COVID, and the only thing I can accredit it to, is having on my mask at all time. So please guys, keep on your mask, and nobody is nobody's friend. Even your own family members, if they don't live in the same house, don't entertain them."

Channel 5