Yesterday we reported that the Ministry had neglected to use antigen tests donated by the Taiwanese government a year ago, forcing them to go into emergency procurement mode which would allow them to buy tests from single suppliers without an open tendering process.

MOH's communications officer clarified that they had in fact used the tests… earlier this month - one year later.

Today on Sunup on 7, the minister explained that, according to his inquiries, the tests sat in storage because they were unverified. While reliable sources tell us differently, he claimed that there were no emergency procurements.

Hon Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness
"These antigen tests were received as a donation, I think about 12,000 of them were received in January 2021 by the Taiwanese government. At that time, and remember you have to be able to plan, and so Belize was in that wave around that time and we had enough SD biosensor to go during that period. When we ran out of the SD biosensor, and then let me just also say that these antigen test kits was not tested. The verification had to be done and so the people at the lab, you had the huge spike in cases, they were overwhelmed, understaffed, so you can't expect at the time they would be doing verification, conducting PCR tests at the same time. And we were in one of the major waves of the pandemic and so there was a lot going on so they utilized the SD biosensor, it was when the SD biosensor supplies was ended, they put out an open tender. So there was no such emergency process that was used, an open tender was done from all indication that I have, it went through the necessary processes, through the Ministry of Finance, and went to the contractor general, the contractor general had some questions and concerns and that was all shared back and forth and finally the contractor general gave his approval and the contract was signed to acquire some of these tests. Now bare in mind, I think there was a total 75,000 of these tests has to be acquired through the process, the contract, we have received I think 15,000 of them and the balance we will receive today. The 12,000 that you are talking about from the Taiwan, that was end up using, again the verification process was done in October, and again all of the processes, so they started using that test in January, it use up in one month because it's 12,000 you see the amount of daily tests being conducted so it doesn't last long."

"It was not that it was purposely locked up, it was that we had a lot of SD biosensor kits that were used."

Channel 7