Jan 12, 2021 News
By Kemol King
Kaieteur News – As COVID-19 vaccines develop and are used around the world, Guyana looks set to receive its own share in the first half of the year. The government had prepared for a resurgence of cases after the Christmas holiday, but it will now have to prepare for a possible resurgence for other reasons. Three particularly worrying mutant strains of the novel COVID-19 have been detected, and all of them are right in Guyana’s backyard, the Federative Republic of Brazil. These three mutant COVID-19 strains have already swept across the planet, and have been detected in every continent in the world, except for Antarctica.
One of them emanated from the United Kingdom (UK). The European country last month recorded a surge in cases, and scientists have attributed it to a new strain of COVID-19 that preliminary studies indicate is way more contagious. The UK government said that it is found to be 70 percent more infectious. Detected early in December, the mutant has shaken the UK again, forcing a fresh wave of lockdown measures. About 40 nations had responded quickly last month by banning entry from UK travellers.
The new strain has not been proven to be more deadly than usual, but it has already spread to more than 30 countries and territories, including Denmark, Italy, Gibraltar, the Netherlands, Australia, South Africa and Brazil.
Guyana’s large, populous neighbour announced its first cases of the UK strain more than a week ago, in its Sao Paulo state. The distance between Guyana and Sao Paulo state is over 3,000 km, on the Eastern side of the continent.
The second worrying strain is one that came from South Africa. That country’s authorities announced the case mid-December, 2020. It was found to be highly infectious like the UK strain, causing a surge in cases in South Africa. It has already started spreading to other countries. On January 9, Reuters reported that Brazil had detected the South African variant in a re-infection case in Rio de Janeiro. This was notable as it is the first such detected case in the world, in which someone was re-infected with the South African variant. The individual’s symptoms, this time around, are more powerful. Rio de Janeiro is on the Southwestern side of the continent, over 3,500 km away from Guyana.
But there is another much closer mutant in the Brazilian Amazonas state. On Sunday, Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases said that it detected a new COVID-19 variant in travellers from Amazonas. The Institute’s head, Takaji Wakita, said that there is no proof that the new Brazil variant is high in infectiousness, though CNBC reported that the strain shares some mutations in common with the UK strain, as well as another highly infectious strain originating from South Africa. Japan’s scientists did not pronounce conclusively on the infectiousness of the strain traced from Amazonas state.
Brazil has been suffering from one of the deadliest outbreaks of the virus in the world, behind the United States. It has detected over eight million cases of COVID-19, and more than 200,000 people have died as a result. Like US President Donald Trump, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticised for diminishing the gravity of the pandemic.
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