Clusters linked, but no certainty on first cases
Most of the COVID-19 clusters across the island share linkages but the chronology of their existence is still to be determined.
This was made clear by Senior Medical Officer Dr Anton Best, who disclosed last night that even in the case of the bus crawl last month, which has been since labelled as a super spreader and linked to a major outbreak at Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds, investigations have not yet determined which outbreaks occurred first.
Best, who was part of the press briefing to update the country on the current surge in cases, was explaining the intricacies of contact tracing as well as the difficulties in narrowing down the index cases. He further noted that it was possible that index cases and ultimately patient zero may never be found.
“It is entirely possible that we can exhaust all of our efforts and we do not know what started a particular cluster. We would have talked about a bus crawl cluster being linked to the prison cluster, we would have talked about the multiple clusters along the West Coast. We know that they are linked, but we can’t even say definitively which ones started first.
Give us time
“Like I said, give us time, the vast majority of persons we have assigned to a cluster because we made a link, whether it is that they were in contact with a particular person at a particular venue, we are still working on linking the other persons to clusters,” said Best.
Since the news broke about the outbreak and the state of affairs at the prison, much of the attention has been placed on the bus crawl and its link to the lone correctional institution, which has now resulted in more than 200 cases among inmates and guards.
However, Best explained that the entire mapping of the outbreak was not yet complete as there were still cases that had not been matched to any of the clusters identified thus far, noting that the process was not one that could be rushed.
“When we identify the index case, then we would have mapped out the entire thing and the case is closed. We have not done that as yet. We have even had questions about who patient zero is and we may never find out who patient zero is but we are working towards making links to all of these cases by identifying them to persons within existing clusters that are very clearly defined at this point. As I said give us time because every single day we are learning a bit more. We are linking people to clusters and we are able to define additional clusters. However, we need time to fully map things out,” he said. (CLM)