CARPHA finds UK, US variants and another similar to Brazil variant in region

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The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says it has found COVID-19 variants from the United Kingdom and the United States as well as another variant similar to that of the Brazil variant from samples sent by CARICOM Member States for testing.

It did not specify, however, which country or countries in the region these variants have been detected.

“To date, CARPHA has detected cases of the UK variant in several Member States. While no cases of the Brazil or South Africa variant have been detected in the Region, U.S. variants of concern and a variant similar to the Brazil variant have been detected,” a statement from the regional body today detailed.

It noted that the CARPHA Medical Microbiology Laboratory (CMML) continues to receive and test samples for suspected COVID-19 cases from Member States (MS). The CMML also maintains its reporting protocol to designated national referral laboratories.

Since December 2020, CARPHA said it has been working with the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine on genome sequencing for MS. Countries have been requested to send an allocation of ten samples per month which meet the requirements for sequencing.

Nevertheless, CARPHA is urging Member States to remain vigilant and continue to enhance their surveillance capacity to screen, identify, test, quarantine, isolate and trace contacts of new cases supported by public health prevention and control measures.

During this critical phase of the pandemic and beyond, CARPHA said it will provide technical support, advice and the highest quality service to help inform decision makers in its Member States.

Only Wednesday, Guyana’s Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony says that Guyana is putting arrangements in place to send samples to CARPHA for testing.

There has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in Guyana with more young people contracting the virus and more infected people getting sicker and require hospitalisation.

However, Dr Anthony says that they cannot say for sure whether this is as a result of a COVID-19 variant here. He noted that the only way to know this is via genetic sequencing of samples.