(CMR) A highly transmissible variant of COVID-19, which was identified in the UK last month, is now in the Cayman Islands.
The Ministry of Health said the Public Health Department had received notice from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) that, of a selection of COVID-19 positive samples sent for genomic sequencing just over two weeks ago, three have come back as being of the British variant B.1.1.7.
All other variants were ruled out from the samples.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee, issued the following statement:
“It is not surprising that we now have confirmation of this variant in the Cayman Islands as we know it to be virulent and widespread. However, our strict adherence to quarantine protocols in the Cayman Islands is keeping the threat of COVID-19 at bay. I encourage everyone dealing with travelers to remain vigilant and adhere to infection prevention and control strategies at all times.”
The three samples with the British variant came from travelers from the United Kingdom and Barbados.
CARPHA can assist with genomic sequencing for a selection of samples with high viral loads at a rate of ten samples per month.
Dr. Eryka Simmons, acting Medical Officer of Health, said, “This new service from CARPHA is much appreciated by the Cayman Islands Ministry of Health, and complements well the PCR testing capabilities at the HSA and Doctors’ Hospital to help monitor and keep our communities free from COVID-19”.
Of these three people positive for SARS-CoV-2, one traveler group has been discharged from quarantine, and the other remains in quarantine.