T&T reports of Delta variant in Guyanese traveler will be investigated – Health Min.
The Health Ministry in Trinidad and Tobago confirmed that the Delta COVID-19 variant was detected in a traveler from Guyana but this country’s Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony says that the Guyanese authorities will investigate the report.
In a release on Wednesday, T&T’s Health Ministry said that two travelers – one from the United States (US) and another from Guyana – tested positive for COVID-19. When their samples were analysed, it was shown that they were infected with a mutated form of COVID-19 – the Delta variant.
Responding to this report on Thursday, Dr. Anthony maintained his previous statements that Guyanese authorities are assuming that variants of SARS-CoV-2 are indeed circulating in Guyana.
It is assumed that these variants are in Guyana due to clinical data on the COVID-19 infections and deaths. Additionally, in May, a representative of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) stated that the Gamma variant (which originated in Brazil) was in the country.
But Guyana has not been able to definitively confirm the presence of variants since the country has not sent more COVID-19 samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in T&T for testing. Only 10 samples were ever sent for variant testing (genomic sequencing); these were sent at the beginning of this year and returned negative.
When questioned about the testing for variants, Dr. Anthony answered, “It doesn’t make much of a difference, all that would tell us is that we have Delta but nothing else.”
While it seemed as though he was suggesting that Guyana was no longer interested in testing for variants, Dr. Anthony clarified: “Once we can make those arrangements, we will try to test.”
But, he added, “… if you are working on the assumption that you have those variants then you just have to keep working and making sure that you can protect people.”
According to him, widespread vaccination coupled with the maintenance of adequate COVID-19 precautions including social distancing and mask-wearing would help to protect people.
Even so, the Health Minister was further questioned on the rationale behind the pause in sending COVID-19 samples to CARPHA to test for variants.
His simple response was: “It is what it is.”
He also brushed off concerns that the testing for variants with CARPHA was paused for financial reasons. It is important to note that correspondences sent to the News Room by CARPHA indicate that the agency has not stopped testing for variants, as was earlier reported.
Previously, Minister Anthony explained that when variants emerge and become variants of concern, it is because they have become more transmissible (that is, more easily spread) and in some cases, because they may evade the body’s immune response to fight off infection.
This Delta variant is a highly transmissible variant – though it is not the only variant – and it has resulted in surges of infections globally.