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Two more COVID variants identified at the border

Two more COVID variants identified at the border
Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic. (GP)

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Over the last three months, four people tested positive for two strains of COVID-19 variants, but they were contained by public health officials and only the Alpha (UK) strain is present in the Barbadian population, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Jeffrey Bostic.

During the latest COVID-19 management update from Ilaro Court on Saturday, Bostic said there were three cases of the Delta or India variant B.1.617.2 and one of the Gamma or Brazilian P1. Alpha was previously discovered in Barbados.

A father and his 8-year-old son who arrived in Barbados on April 21 were the first identified cases of the Delta variant during that period. They were immediately placed in quarantine and were positive for the virus four days later. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) confirmed the presence of the variant on June 11.

The third person arrived as part of a group on May 14 and was positive ten days later. Bostic explained the reason for the gap was connected to one person in the group testing positive for the virus, leading to an extended period of quarantine for all. Samples were sent to CARPHA on June 1 and the variant was confirmed on June 16. Again, the person went to quarantine and then isolation at Harrison Point in St Lucy.

The lone case of the Gamma variant was confirmed by CARPHA on June 16. That person arrived on May 17, was confirmed positive five days later and the sample sent off on June 1.

“All four persons who tested positive for these two variants of concern have subsequently been discharged from the isolation facility at Harrison Point. And I want to state here clearly that there are no identified cases of any of these other variants – other than the Alpha variant – within the local community,” Bostic said.

“And that is important, because what this demonstrates is that the measures that were put in place, particularly our entry protocols, have worked well for us.”

He credited to everyone involved and said aggressive contract tracing started as soon as these people tested positive, and it was completed it without any additional positives at that time. He also complimented the designated hotels and the front line workers.

The Health Minister said 12 samples were sent to a Canadian lab partner and 88 more were scheduled to be sent. Through the British High Commission, the United Kingdom also indicated a willingness to provide assistance with testing and sequencing. (SAT)