Omicron Variant In Antigua and Barbuda

The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment has received confirmationfrom the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) of the omicron variant strainof the SARS CoV-2 in Antigua and Barbuda.
While Ministry of Health officials havesuspected the presence of Omicron in Antigua and Barbuda, this is the first certified confirmation of the variant’s presence.
The omicron variant of concern (VOC), first identified in South Africa in November2021, was found in a set of samples sent to CARPHA in December 2021. The deltavariant of concern, first identified in Antigua and Barbuda in July 2021, was identified in the other samples.
The omicron variant is identified by multiple spike protein mutations. Expertsbelieve that it is more transmissible than other VOCs. However, it may causemore less severe disease, less hospitalizations and deceased intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and deaths.
The World Health Organization has so far confirmed five variants of concerncirculating globally. Antigua and Barbuda has been sending samples to CARPHAfor genomic sequencing to detect variants since October 2020. As a result of theMinistry of Health’s increased surveillance, all five VOCs have now been identifiedin Antigua and Barbuda.
The public is reminded that after a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases sincethe end the last surge in November 2021, we are now seeing an increase in the number of cases. This reinforces the fact that we must continue to adhere to the public health measures 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 and get their boosters utilizing the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines readily available at our vaccinationcentres in the Multipurpose and Cultural Centre and the Villa Polyclinic.

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