Covid-19 samples sent to CARPHA confirm Omicron variant in Guyana

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony has confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant here, following the return of positive samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for genetic sequencing.

Minister Anthony, during the daily COVID-19 Update on Wednesday, said the samples were recently sent to the regional public health agency.

Woman being tested for COVID-19.

“Of the 20 samples that we have sent, 19 came back positive for Omicron. One was indeterminate, because in the sample itself, apparently they did not have enough genetic material in the sample to be able to sequence it,” Dr. Anthony disclosed.

Minister Anthony noted the general decline in cases countrywide, after peaking at more than 13,000. Current active cases stand at 494, with active cases in Region Four dropping to 144 after several months.

Meanwhile, the sub-type BA.2, of the Omicron variant has been detected in 74 countries and seems to be overtaking the BA.1 sub-type, which is the dominant sub-type.

The difference between the two sub-types is the presence of the SG target failure, which can be detected in the BA.1 using the normal PCR; however, the BA .2 does not have this target failure and therefore cannot be detected by a normal PCR test and requires genetic sequencing.

Dr. Anthony noted that scientists have been trying to observe whether this would lead to any clinical difference. However, so far, in terms of hospitalisation and clinical presentation, it remains similar.

“What however, they have found is that it has a shorter duration for incubation, about half day less than the Omicron BA.1 but it’s not really significant,” Dr. Anthony said.

He noted that the variants are similar, as there were no major changes detected in the clinical manifestation.

“I guess the scientists would continue to observe and make deductions on what is happening with the BA.2,” he noted.

The BA.1 sub-variant has been the dominant variant since Omicron first manifested last November. Dr. Anthony suspects that the BA.2 may become the more dominant sub- variant, however for now, scientists continue to monitor the findings.

Meanwhile, hospitalisation numbers continue to decrease with mostly older persons with underlying conditions being hospitalised.


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