On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, PAHO/WHO Belize held an awareness building session on COVID-19 with the staff of different organizations including Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sagicor, Anthony Thurton & Associates, Terramark Properties, Morgan & Morgan, United, Financial Intelligence Unit and Coney Drive Development Company.
The PAHO/WHO Belize COVID-19 Incident Management Team coordinated the session with the technical advisors being on the panel. Those who attended the session were able to learn about the global situation of COVID-19 and the general preparedness actions for the virus.
PAHO/WHO Representative, Dr. Noreen Jack, opened the session by welcoming the participants and providing a general overview and reflection on the COVID-19 situation.
“We all have to be kind. Kind to others. Kind to family. We’re all in this together.”
Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize
After the welcome, the technical advisors including Dr. Edwin Bolastig - Health Systems and Services Advisor, Dr. Job Joseph - Communicable Disease Surveillance Focal Point, Dr. Peitra Arana - Health Systems and Services Consultant, and Ms. Lealou Reballos - Health Emergencies Technical Officer were introduced.
Dr. Bolastig presented on the global spread of the virus, since its origin in Wuhan, China and throughout the other regions of the Americas and the Caribbean. Interactive geographical maps from PAHO and WHO were shown representing the spread of the virus throughout the world. He stressed on the importance of referring to reliable sources and tools such as these for information and statistics on COVID-19.
“If you want information that you can rely on, you can go to these sites (PAHO and WHO) because these are updated, verified, and validated information."
Dr. Job Joseph continued the session with a prevention and preparedness presentation. He shared information on symptoms, transmission and recommended actions to take for preparedness and prevention.
Dr. Peitra Arana followed up with an interactive presentation on who, when and how to use masks. Attendees were able to participate in an interactive learning exercise to correctly and safely put on and remove masks.
Ms. Lealou Reballos also provided a brief on PAHO/WHO Belize office’s support to the Ministry of Health to better prepare the country for COVID-19. This includes procuring canisters and shipping packages for sample shipment, purchasing laboratory test kits, procuring Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), participating in surveillance meetings and media briefings, and assisting in enhancing risk communication and community engagement strategies.
The presentation ended with an informative questions and answers session from the participants. Among questions raised were on Belize’s capacity to conduct testing, how to deal with misinformation and rumors, workplace preparedness, isolation preparedness and the specificity of the symptoms and transmission of COVID-19.
To end, Dr. Noreen Jack and the technical advisors thanked everyone for their participation. The results of this presentation lead to other informational sessions being coordinated for additional organizations.