Dec 24, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – In light of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus (SARS-Cov-2) discovered in the United Kingdom (UK), the National COVID-19 Task Force which falls under the Ministry of Health is seeking recommendations from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) as it relates to using flights from that country.
This was revealed by the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, during his COVID-19 update on Tuesday.
Dr. Anthony said that as a result of the new variant being spread in the UK, flights from the country could be adjusted since it brings a high risk of imported cases. However that will be done based on the recommendations from CARPHA.
He further stated that Caribbean countries like Jamaica and Grenada have already restricted flights from the UK, but CARPHA has recommended that they observe the situation and “get more scientific information” before making a decision. “Once we confirm some of the mutations and understand the impact that these mutations may have, then we’ll be able to make a more definitive pronouncement,” Dr. Anthony said.
He also noted that some countries in Europe, Canada, Russia, and a few others have restricted flights too.
CARPHA is having its virologist collaborate with virologists from the Pan American Health Organization on the matter and during their meeting with stakeholders on Monday, they said that as of December 13, a total of 1,108 persons were infected with the new variant of the disease. The new variant is still being investigated and is being referred to as SARS-CoV-2 VU1 202012/01.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony disclosed that the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Narine Singh, will be meeting with key stakeholders to discuss the new variant of the disease and they will examine possible safeguards.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that the UK has been recording a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in London and southeast England since November 2020, which has been linked to a different version/variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). Public health professionals in the UK are evaluating the characteristics of this new variant.
“Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and start infecting people. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic,” the CDC said.
Additionally, it was noted that they have not yet found how widely the new variant has spread in the UK and potentially around the world, how it differs from earlier variants and how the disease caused by this variant differs from the disease caused by other variants that are currently circulating.
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