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St. Lucia records COVID variant; Guyana results pending

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) confirmed five cases of the COVID-19 variant SARS-Co-V-2 in St Lucia, a member of the Caricom group of nations.

According to Nation News, the island’s Department of Health and Wellness said two British nationals and three St Lucians had the virus, but all have since recovered.

The two Brits were diagnosed on December 17 and 23. The St Lucians, who are from Dennery, Micoud, and Babonneau, were also diagnosed in December.

On December 14, 2020, the United Kingdom Public Health Agency reported a variant of SARS-CoV. The identified strain had been in circulation from September 20, 2020, within the United Kingdom.

The virus has since been detected in Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Australia, but the risk of importation into the Caribbean and the rest of the world was rated as high due to incoming travel from the United Kingdom and Europe.

Cases of this new strain have since been confirmed in Caribbean islands, including Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica.

Earlier in the month, Guyana’s health authorities said that they were “very concerned” about the coronavirus variant in neighbouring Brazil.

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony had said that Guyana could not conclusively identify newer strains because the country is unable to perform genomic sequencing. But, he has not rejected the possibility that the strain(s) may be in Guyana.

Nonetheless, ten samples were sent to CARPHA last week, and Anthony, during today’s COVID-19 update, said that the results are expected by the end of the week.