CARPHA has not advised a UK travel ban -Minister Anthony

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Frank Anthony says the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has not recommended a restriction on travel to and from the United Kingdom, despite the discovery of a new variant of Covid there.  

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony

The Minister made this disclosure during his COVID-19 update on Monday.

Dr. Anthony said while Jamaica has implemented a travel ban to the UK, CARPHA continues to provide guidance to the Region. Further, he noted that individual member states can take decisions on the matter that best suit their interests and needs.

“CARPHA has been working with all the member states to discuss this variant and the very first meeting after the UK announced it, CARPHA explained what was the latest information they had and what steps should be taken. That advice did not include shutting down any kind of transportation arrangement between the UK, and other countries,” he said.

Minister Anthony said since Guyana lacks the capability to conduct genetic sequencing needed to diagnose the presence of the variant here, it will continue to rely on CARPHA’s direction. He explained that the UK developed a proactive programme where 10 per cent of the samples were analysed, leading to the discovery of the new strain.  

“They automatically take those samples and do genetic sequencing on them to look at the mutations that is happening with the virus. In the Caribbean, we have not established such surveillance programme using genetic sequencing and until we do that it is going to be very difficult to analyse what strains we have circulating in the Region.”

Currently, the Government of Guyana has an arrangement in place with CARPHA to conduct genetic sequencing on a quantity of samples. Countries can send 10 samples per month to be analysed.

With regard to media reports that a local laboratory is conducting tests to identify the new strain, Dr. Anthony said the Ministry has requested that the entity provide a report on its findings. To date, no report has been submitted.

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