Tufton says UK variant possibly reason for second COVID surge in JamaicaThursday, April 29, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton says of the 10 COVID samples that were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing, seven were found to have the UK variant.
The minister was speaking in today’s COVID Conversations digital press conference.
He noted that 50 samples were sent to the agency but only 10 were found suitable for testing.
Dr Tufton said the other three have mutations that are being investigated in the US and the UK but have not been determined to be variants of concern unlike the UK variant which is considered to be a faster spreading variant.
“The discovery of the seven of 10 does make a point. It does say that the UK strain of the COVID-19 virus is here, it is, I think based on the discoveries it is fairly widescale and it could possibly explain the rate of spread that we have experienced on the second surge and that is a matter that has to be recognised as we move forward,” the minister said.
This comes as Jamaica's travel ban on the United Kingdom is scheduled to end tomorrow, April 30. The prime minister had earlier announced that the ban would not be extended. This means that as of May 1, visitors from the UK can arrive in Jamaica.
Commenting on the reopening of the border to the UK earlier, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said, “The opening of the borders is important in the context of not just Jamaica's tourism but Caribbean tourism, as so many of these countries benefit from transiting through Jamaica for British and European nationals.”
“It is important also against the background of the recent call by the Caribbean Tourism Organization urging a review of the categorisation of Caribbean countries by the UK; given the fact that we have the lowest death rates and highest recovery rates and exemplary COVID-19 management,” he added.
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