St Lucia confirms new variant of Omicron
A new novel coronavirus variant has emerged called Omicron.

CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) – St Lucia Tuesday confirmed the presence of both the Omicron BA1 and BA2 strains of the coronavirus (COVID-19) with the island reporting a daily infection rate of 6.8 per 100,000 over the last seven days.

The Ministry of Health said it recently received new gene sequencing results from the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and that the results indicate the presence of both the Omicron BA1 and BA2 lineages.

“The Omicron variant BA1 which has been circulating since February 2022 was confirmed in 11 of the samples sequenced. Two cases of the Omicron BA2 Variant were confirmed,” the ministry said, noting that “of the two cases of Omicron BA2 diagnosed one is a resident from Anse La Raye and the other from the northern town of Gros Islet.”

The authorities said that the Omicron BA2 variant is responsible for the new waves noted in Barbados, Martinique and the developed countries.

“The Omicron variant remains the dominant variant circulating globally and has replaced all other circulating variants in most countries. Although there is reduced SARS-CoV-2 testing globally from the beginning of 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic continues with intense transmission and death particularly in high-risk populations and the unvaccinated,” health authorities said.

They said that as of April 17, St Lucia has diagnosed a total of 23,111 cases in the country, with 70 active cases. The daily infection rate for the last seven days is 6.8 per 100,000 population per day which represents a seven per cent increase from last week, with an 11 per cent average testing positivity rate and a transmission rate of 1.2.

“We have noted a total of 367 COVID- 19 deaths. We have nine positive COVID-19 cases admitted at the Respiratory Hospital. This past week we continue to register cases daily, we note increases in our public health indicators,” the ministry added.

The authorities said that several vaccines, including the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and Moderna products are available at the various wellness centres.

“The booster vaccine is also available for persons who have been fully vaccinated for over six months. Everyone who has not been vaccinated is urged to get vaccinated urgently,” the ministry added.

“As we strive to live safely with COVID-19 and remove restrictive measures and open up the country, it is important that our public health protective measures are in place especially to protect the most vulnerable,” the ministry said, appealing to all organizations, public and private sector to ensure the maintenance of the public health protocols.

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