(CMR) The highly transmissible Omicron BA.2 variant has been detected in Jamaica, the country's Ministry of Health & Wellness said in a statement Thursday.
According to the Ministry, 89 samples collected between January 1 to March 4 were submitted for gene sequencing, with the result showing 98.9% were Omicron variants and 1.1 % Delta variants.
Of the Omicron samples, two of 88 or 2.3% were BA.2 variant, and 97.7% were BA.1 variant.
Chief medical officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, said that the BA.2 variant, according to World Health Organization, is the dominant variant globally and the type of illness associated with this variant is similar to the BA.1 variant.
She also pointed out that this variant is highly transmissible; as a result, there may be an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
“While the majority of cases appear to be mild, persons with comorbidities are at risk for severe illness, and persons who have mild symptoms and no symptoms may be at risk for developing long COVID. The public is therefore encouraged to practice infection prevention and control measures, including wearing of masks, hand washing, physical distancing, and staying home if you are sick,” Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said.
Jamaica recently lifted mandatory mask-wearing, and visitors to the country no longer need to get a COVID test before travel.