(By Ernesto Cooke) – Kingstown St Vincent) – There is a suspicion that the new COVID -19 variant may have reached St Vincent and the Grenadines’ shores.
Multiple COVID-19 variants are circulating globally. In the United Kingdom (UK), a new variant has emerged with many mutations.
This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.
On Tuesday 5th 2021, Chief Medical Officer of Health in St Vincent Dr Simone Keizer-Beache said two weeks ago they submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency samples, to check for the new COVID -19 variant.
“On Monday, we received results of the samples we sent. However, they did not test positive; we are sending more samples for testing because we are extremely suspicious about the recent upsurge in cases”.
Keizer – Beache said St Vincent and the Grenadines went from few cases to an upsurge of cases from the United Kingdom, followed by a spike around 17th, December 2020.
The new COVID -19 variant was first detected in September 2020 and is now highly prevalent in London and southeast England.
“So yes, we are sending more samples back to CARPHA for testing to let us know if we have the new strain on the island.”
St Vincent and the Grenadines on Monday confirmed nine new COVID-19 cases of which four were imported and five recorded among nationals without a recent travel history.
A release from the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) said the four imported cases were recorded in non-national adult travellers who arrived from Brazil, the USA and the UK between December 20 and 27 with negative PCR tests.
Subsequent testing during the quarantine period revealed positive PCR results. These travellers remain isolated until cleared by two negative results.
“An additional five adult nationals without a recent travel history have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 12. One case is linked to the December 28, 2020 cluster.
The remainder continues to be investigated. Contact tracing, linking and testing related to these new cases are ongoing,” the release from NEMO said.
Further Reading On New Variant (CDC)
In South Africa, another variant has emerged independently of the variant detected in the UK. This variant, originally detected in early October, shares some mutations with the variant detected in the UK. There have been cases caused by this variant outside of South Africa. This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.
Another variant recently emerged in Nigeria. CDC also is monitoring this strain but, at this time, there is no evidence to indicate this variant is causing more severe illness or increased spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
What we do not know
Scientists are working to learn more about these variants, and more studies are needed to understand:
- How widely these new variants have spread
- How the new variants differ
- How the disease caused by these new variants differs from the disease caused by other variants that are currently circulating
What it means
Public health officials are studying these variants quickly to learn more to control their spread. They want to understand whether the variants:
- Spread more easily from person to person
- Cause milder or more severe disease in people
- Are detected by currently available viral tests
- Respond to medicines currently being used to treat people for COVID-19
- Change the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. There is no evidence that this is occurring, and most experts believe this is unlikely to occur because of the nature of the immune response to the virus.