US CDC advises against travel to Guyana due to COVID-19 variant concerns
The United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised against travel to Guyana, stating that even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.
The CDC, in a travel notice updated on September 20, placed Guyana on the highest COVID-19 travel health notice level, that is, Level Four. This means the CDC believes that travel to the country should be avoided due to the current surge in COVID-19 infections.
While the CDC advised against travel to Guyana, it stated: “If you must travel to Guyana, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.”
For the month of September so far, the Ministry of Health has reported that 108 people have died from COVID-19. This is the highest number of deaths in a single month since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Moreover, more than 4,100 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus this month alone; this means that September has the highest number of infections recorded in a single month as well.
Though the CDC cautioned travellers about the threat of COVID-19 variants, it is important to know that Guyanese authorities are assuming that variants of SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19) are circulating in Guyana.
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.
Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony, while engaging reporters recently, stated that Guyana is assuming that the deadly Delta variant is here because of the “clinical profile” of the infections recorded more recently.
When questioned about the testing for variants then, Dr. Anthony answered, “It doesn’t make much of a difference, all that would tell us is that we have Delta but nothing else.”