The Health Ministry has sent several samples abroad to see if the new variant of the COVID-19 is present in Guyana. The country has not yet reported any such cases, but it’s regional counterparts including Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil, have confirmed cases.
According to Guyana’s Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, the samples have been sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), which has been doing “some amount of genetic sequencing and that would tell you whether or not its one variant or the other.”
Dr. Anthony believes that once the testing for the new variant becomes more available, there will be more cases.
“Yesterday, the Ministry of Health in Trinidad and Tobago reported that they have identified the B117 variant in Trinidad. They have reported that and so we are now alerted. This probably is the 2nd case that we have had in the Caribbean with the first being in Jamaica and now we have one in Trinidad and I suspect once we start doing the genetic sequencing, we will find similar cases in other countries”, Minister Anthony said.
Multiple COVID-19 variants are circulating globally. The Washington Post reports that in the United Kingdom (UK), a new variant called B.1.1.7 has emerged with an unusually large number of mutations. This variant spreads easier and quicker than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. This variant was first detected in September 2020 and is now highly prevalent in London and southeast England. It has since been detected in numerous countries around the world, including the United States and Canada.