Confirmation of Omicron in Guyana could potentially see health authorities altering the COVID-19 guidelines to shorten the isolation and quarantine periods, Guyana’s Health Minister Dr Frank Anthoy said today. In absence of confirmation, the official noted that isolation and quarantine guidelines tailored to the Delta variant will remain intact.

His comment comes on the heels of the United States (U.S.)’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issuing a statement informing that Americans who test positive for COVID-19 only need to isolate for five days as long as their symptoms have stopped. The change to isolation guidelines from 10 days to five is based on data showing people with COVID-19 are most likely to be contagious to others during the few days before and after they start showing symptoms, the CDC said in a statement.

Asked if Guyana would adopt this measure, the Minister replied: “The CDC guideline is based on what is happening in the United States. The dominant variant that is now circulating in the United States is Omicron, and with Omicron, people get infected, and the most infectious period would be the first three days and then people become symptomatic in some cases. So, people would remain asymptomatic, but the duration of the illness with Omicron is much shorter and based on those clinical parameters, that is why the CDC has changed their guidelines.”

Minister Anthony said that the dominant variant in Guyana is still Delta, and therefore, the citizenry must be “mindful” that those guidelines may not be applicable to Guyana.

He noted, however, that if Omicron’s presence is confirmed here, only then will the ministry review its measures. “[B]ut as of now, I don’t think we’ll be changing the guidelines until we can confirm we’ve had cases of Omicron here,” the Minister said.

Guyana has confirmed 157 new cases within the last 24 hours, taking the number of confirmed infections since March 2020 to 39,395. The death count remains at 1,052. So far, 37,595 persons have recovered, representing more than 95% of all confirmed infections.

Seven persons are in the intensive care unit, five in institutional quarantine, 711 isolating at home, and 30 are institutionally isolated. Some 422,927 tests have been conducted to date.


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