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MOH preparing for possible spread of Delta variant

MOH preparing for possible spread of Delta variant
Dr Rogrer Duncan - Health Officer.

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With three Delta variant cases of COVID19 confirmed, local health authorities are preparing for possible community spread of the variant said to be more transmissible than other variants of COVID19.

Dr Roger Duncan, the Medical Officer of Health said this week that because the Delta variant is much more easily transmissible, it is likely to infect more people. This would therefore increase the likelihood for more persons to experience severe sickness, resulting in an increase in COVID related deaths.

“…The positivity rate is trending upwards. I wouldn’t want us to be too secure or overconfident in the numbers that we’re seeing in terms of the amount of COVID we have among us,” Dr Duncan said at a virtual pres conference on Tuesday. We have to be very, very weary of what is happening.

“We don’t have to look very far. There’s Barbados right next door. Up North is Jamaica, South of us is Grenada and we can see what’s happening there,” the health official said at the press conference organised by the Ministry of Health.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), the Delta variant was detected in three imported cases from the United Kingdom.

Data from the health ministry note that two of these cases were fully vaccinated while the third case was an unvaccinated individual who was not yet eligible to receive a COVID19 jab.

Dr Duncan told the media that local authorities are actively looking for Delta variants in samples.

“You’d notice when we do releases regarding Delta cases, you would find in those releases that the travellers would have entered the country some weeks prior,” the health official said. “There’s a simple explanation for that because it takes time to do the typing. We don’t do genetic typing in St Vincent. They go off to CARPHA and they also go off to other public health labs for confirmation,” he added.

The medical officer said that several measures have been put in place as it relates to the overall management of COVID19 in SVG.

This includes building capacity for testing and a quicker turnaround time for results.

“Our contact tracing surveillance has been improved. That’s why we’ve been detecting these cases, these imported cases of Delta.

Also, we have a contingency plan for emergency care; both at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and at community and rural hospitals, which would see some deviation from normal daily routine as we switch to a different mode, depending on what the caseloads or whenever we encounter a rapid community spread of the Delta variant,” the medical officer of health explained.

The COVID19 vaccine is the latest tool that has been added to the Ministry’s public health arsenal for the management of the pandemic.

Dr Duncan said SVG is fortunate in many ways as it is among the few countries that have access to various vaccines.

Vincentians currently have access to the AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Pfizer vaccines.

The health official said, “The vaccines are going to add further protection, apart from distancing yourself, apart from wearing your mask and apart from keeping your hands clean, the vaccines we know for sure will protect you from severe disease, hospitalisation and death…”

He noted that people have varying views on receiving the jab. He expressed the willingness of health authorities to listen and engage with persons in an effort to discuss the benefits of the vaccines.

“We know that with everything else there is an inherent risk, but we are pretty certain – the evidence is clear, the science is clear – that vaccines bring much more benefits than they do harm, and vaccines are going to play an important role in how the pandemic unfolds,” Dr Duncan said.

As of September 1, there were 38 active cases. More than 2300 cases of COVID19 have been recorded in SVG since March 2020.
So far, more than 30,900 vaccines have been administered. 

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