Antigua and Barbuda confirms cases of Delta strainFriday, July 23, 2021
ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC) – Health authorities in Antigua have confirmed the presence of the Delta variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are urging nationals to get vaccinated as a means of combating the disease.
The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment said it has received confirmation from the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) of the delta variant strain, first identified in India in October 2020.
It said that the strain was detected in one of a group of seven samples taken in Antigua and Barbuda between May 5 and July 2 this year.
“The alpha variant of concern, first identified in Antigua and Barbuda late last month, was identified in the other six samples. The delta variant is identified by multiple spike protein mutations. It is more transmissible, may cause more severe disease, hospitalisations, increased intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and death. There is also preliminary evidence of twice the rate of hospitalisation for unvaccinated persons when compared to those who are vaccinated,” the ministry said in a statement.
The island has recorded 42 deaths and 1, 277 positive cases of the virus since the first case was registered in March 2020 and the ministry said Antigua and Barbuda has been sending samples to CARPHA for genomic sequencing to detect variants since October 2020.
“The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment has also increased its surveillance for SARS CoV-2 variants at the laboratory at the Sir Lester Bird Mount St John's Medical Centre which now has the capacity to detect SARS CoV-2 variants.
“As a result of this increased surveillance we have been able to identify the alpha, beta and delta variants of concern in Antigua and Barbuda. The public is reminded that after recording no active cases of COVID-19 for a few weeks we are now seeing an increase in the number of cases,” the health authorities warned.
They said “this reinforces the fact that we must continue to adhere to the public health measure to prevent and control the disease.
“These include physical and social distancing, using face masks and practicing hand hygiene and cough etiquette. The public is further reminded that vaccination is one of the most effective measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Persons are therefore urged to get fully vaccinated utilising the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines readily available at our vaccination centres,” the ministry said in the statement.
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