Guyanese officials “very concerned” about virus variant in Brazil

Dr Frank Anthony, Minister of Health

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony says local officials are “very concerned” about the coronavirus variant in neighbouring Brazil.

New variants of coronavirus are emerging that are more infectious than the original one that started the pandemic.

Scientists are urgently studying these mutated versions to understand what threat they pose.

“We are very concerned,” Dr Anthony said during today’s update on the Covid-19 situation in Guyana.

He explained that due to the close proximity between Guyana and Brazil, local authorities have been put on alert to pay keen attention to movement along the border.

“Our land border has been closed for some time now…The bridge over the Takutu [connecting Guyana and Brazil] has been closed. We do allow on Thursday very limited amount of interaction where goods can come over from Brazil and goods from Guyana can go across to Brazil,” the Health Minister explained, noting that these activities are “properly supervised by health authorities in both sides”.

However, he noted that there is still “a lot” of persons “crossing over illegally”.

“On our side, we had the Joint Services working very hard to be able to cover that area…on the Brazilian side, they have also increased patrols,” the Health Minister noted.

Dr Anthony disclosed that the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has estimated that the variant might be in a number of South American countries.

“The reason why they have said that is because they have a network of 21 laboratories that have been doing genetic sequencing and they have detected this variant in some of those countries,” the minister stated.

The BBC reported that it is suspected that the UK, South Africa and Brazil variants could be much more contagious or easy to catch than earlier versions.

Dr Anthony posited that, if this proves to be true, it could pose a very challenging situation for the local healthcare system.

“If this is more transmissible, then more people are going to get infected,” he highlighted, noting that if this happens, it will put a strain on the hospitals in the country.

“These are going to be the challenges if this variant circulates in our country,” Dr Anthony said.

The United Kingdom has already banned travel from Guyana and other South American countries over concerns about the new virus variant in Brazil.