St Lucia confirms first case of new Covid variant
WHO director warned this week the Covid-19 pandemic is not over and governments should be aware of sub-variants
ST LUCIA has confirmed its first case of the new Covid-19 variant.
Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) confirmed the BA5 variant of the coronavirus has been detected on the island.
The case has been confirmed in a 36-year-old woman from Vieux Fort, chief medical officer Dr Sharon Belmar George said.
The woman, does not have a history of travelling.
Experts now believe the BA5 variant could be spreading across the Eastern Caribbean nation.
This comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is not over.
At a media briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged governments to take action to stop the fresh wave of infections that is being driven by sub-variants of the omicron strain.
He said: “I urge governments to regularly review and adjust their covid-19 response plans based on the current epidemiology and also the potential for new variants to appear.
“Governments should also work to reverse the reduction in surveillance, testing and sequencing, and share anti-virals effectively”
According to Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, as St Lucia returns to normal “protective measures” are needed.
“As we continue to note the return to normalcy with the opening up of events and mass crowd activities, we need to ensure that the proven public health protective measures are in place to prevent us from getting sick and to protect the most vulnerable.
“The public is reminded that the threat of COVID-19, long COVID-19 and its complications still exists, especially given St. Lucia’s low immunisation rate.
“Personal responsibility is extremely important at this time, to reduce the transmission of infection to ourselves and our families.
“The public is guided to continue the use of face masks in public, and ensure hand washing and proper general sanitisation.
“The public is also advised to use their discretion, ensure they and their vulnerable family members are fully vaccinated and boosted before attending mass crowd events,” Dr Belmar George added.
Since the start of the pandemic, St Lucia has reported 27,337 cases of Covid-19 and has recorded 385 deaths.
In May, Jamaica announced the country was experiencing a fifth wave of Covid-19 and the Omicron BA2 variant was driving the new wave of infections across the island.
BA.5 ups concerns about spread, hospitalizations
Concerns are rising over a new omicron subvariant that is even more highly transmissible, called BA.5. The new subvariant has risen to be a majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States and is sparking concern about an increase in hospitalizations.
The White House held a press briefing with its top health experts on Tuesday to address the rise of the subvariant and urged people to get booster shots if they have not yet.
What’s new about it? BA.5 causes concern because of its increased contagiousness and because of its greater ability to evade the protection from vaccines and prior infection.
Importantly, though, the vaccines still provide crucial protection against severe disease and death, especially for people who have received their booster shots.
The trends so far:
WORLD COVID STATS