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Gamma COVID variant most prevalent in SVG

Gamma COVID variant most prevalent in SVG
TAMARA BOBB, epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health

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THE GAMMAVARIANT has been identified as the most prevalent of the three COVID-19 variants that have been found to be present in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

And health authorities have warned that this variant is more easily transmissible and more deadly than the original variant, but just as aggressive as the Delta variant.

Tamara Bobb, epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health said local authorities continue to send samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency to be sequenced in order to know what variants are circulating in the country.

So far, Delta, Gamma and Mu have been identified.

And according to Bobb, who was speaking at a press conference of the Ministry of Health on Tuesday, “we have 24 of the samples that were sent being identified as the Gamma variant, 15 being identified as the Mu variant and six being identified as the Delta variant”.

The epidemiologist also explained that samples sent to CARPHA for sequencing have to meet a certain criteria set out by the laboratory.

She said that so far, only one person who has died in SVG has met that criteria, and that person was determined to have been infected with the Gamma variant.

“…It’s not restricted to St Vincent. Throughout the CARICOM countries, the Gamma variant has been found to be the dominant variant…and then the Delta is much less active in the region and the Mu also is present as a variant of interest,” Dr Simone Keizer-Beache, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), said as she expanded on the matter.

“So, in terms of our approach, it would be the same as if we had Delta being dominant. What we are seeing is the spread being the same in terms of being very infectious and so our approach is, again, that we need to use our masks, sanitise, distance, and vaccinate because even though the research does say that the vaccines… they are less effective when confronted by the Gamma and the Delta, they are still significantly effective…” The CMO noted that regardless of the specific variant, all are highly contagious and the best chance an individual has in fighting this virus is when they are vaccinated and following the relevant masking, sanitising and physical distancing protocols.

Keizer-Beache also made an appeal for persons to present to health services early if they suspect they might be infected with the virus.

“I know there is a lot of anxiety about persons coming to the hospital. It existed before COVID and it is now worse. But what is also known about the Gamma, Delta is that the progression from feeling fine to being very sick is very short, is very rapid. So, if you stay at home attempting to manage it at home for yourself, you put yourself at greater risk for having a poor outcome and we ask persons to seek care early,” the healthcare official said.

As of Tuesday, October 19, there were 1643 active cases and 54 COVID-19 deaths.

The larger number of deaths, 42, was recorded since this country’s most recent spike, which began at the start of September.

All deaths, to date, have been persons who are unvaccinated against COVID-19.

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