Dec 31, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – The Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, yesterday announced that Guyana’s health system does not hold the capacity to test for the new variant of COVID-19 that was first found in the United Kingdom (UK).
This new variant, according to reports, is much more contagious, meaning that it is more easily transmitted. The new variant is a mutation of the COVID-19 virus (SARS-Cov-2) and persons can be re-infected with it, according to Dr. Anthony.
“We don’t have the capabilities of doing genetic testing and therefore we don’t know the types of variant that are circulating because the types of test that you need to do that are very specialized (and) we don’t have that capability here,” the Health Minister disclosed.
However, in light of Guyana lacking that capability, he stated that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) could do testing for the new strain.
“It is sometimes very important to understand the variants of the virus that are circulating in a country and that would also mean that you would have to get an ongoing surveillance to track what is happening and we also don’t have that capability,” the Health Minister said.
Last week, Dr. Anthony revealed that the Ministry of Health is currently seeking recommendations from CARPHA, as it relates to taking flights from the United Kingdom (UK). He had stated that as a result of the new variant being spread in the UK, flights from that 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 had further stated that Caribbean countries like Jamaica and Grenada have already restricted flights from the UK, but before Guyana makes a decision CARPHA recommended that, they observe the situation and “get more scientific information.”
“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 had disclosed.
He also noted that some countries in Europe, Canada, Russia, and a few others have restricted flights too.
Additionally, he said 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 for the country.
In the meantime, CARPHA is having its virologist collaborate with virologists from the Pan American Health Organization. CARPHA had also stated that as of December 13, a total of 1,108 persons were infected with the new variant of the disease.
It is still being investigated and is being referred to as SARS-CoV-2 VU1 202012/01. (Sueann Wickham)
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