Guyana does not have capability to test new variant of COVID-19 – Health Minister

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Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony on Wednesday revealed that Guyana does not have the capability to test for the new variant of COVID-19 which health experts are reporting is more transmissible. However, the Minister revealed that testing can be done through the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) but he did not state how long the results will take or what will be the cost.

“We don’t have the capabilities of doing genetic testing and therefore we don’t know the types of variant that are circulating cause the types of test that you need to do that are very specialized [and] we don’t have that capability here,” the Health Minister said.

He explained that the virus over time mutates and persons can be re-infected with a new variant.
“It is sometimes very important to understand the variants of the virus that are circulating in a country and that would also mean that you would have to get an ongoing surveillance to track what is happening and we also don’t have that capability,” the Health Minister explained.

Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony

The new variant of the virus have been recorded in the UK, US, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Iceland, and the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, while there are now 348 active cases and a limited number of new cases have been reported within the last week, the Minister is pleading with citizens to continue to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines.
“While that looks like a nice number when you increase testing in particular areas or if you are more aggressive with testing, you will see those number going up so a lower number now does not mean we are out of the woods.

“We still have a long way to go in terms of exiting this pandemic,” the Minister said.

He is also warning against reinfection when persons become careless.

The country as of December 29, 2020 recorded 6,301 confirmed cases of which, 5,777 have recovered and 164 have died.

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