COVID-19: Dr. Anthony admits that Guyana confirmed Delta variant here

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Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony has revealed that Guyana sent more samples to Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) for their specialised testing to identify the presence of the Delta variant.

And, he said those tests confirmed the presence of the deadly Delta variant in Guyana. The Health Minister said this while responding to questions from the News Room at the sidelines of an event on Wednesday.

“We had some samples that were sent to CARPHA at the time when we were having a surge with Delta cases and it confirmed what we saw clinically,” Dr. Anthony said.

He highlighted that “about 50 samples” were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in T&T for genomic sequencing, which is a specialised form of genetic testing to determine the presence of variants.

It is important to note that there was no prior announcement that the government intended to send additional COVID-19 samples to CARPHA.

Based on reports, however, only 10 samples were ever sent for variant testing; these were sent at the beginning of this year and returned negative.

In August, Dr. Anthony said that the local authorities were assuming that the variants, including the deadly Delta variant, were circulating in Guyana. And, he said that there was no need to test for these variants if the local authorities were already making this assumption.

In light of this new information, on Wednesday, the Health Minister was questioned when these samples were sent for testing. His response was: “It was some time ago, I can’t remember the exact date.”

Guyana experienced the worst surge of COVID-19 deaths and infections in October and November and Dr. Anthony attributed this to the assumed presence of the deadly Delta variant.

During his daily COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony said that the local health authorities have developed a relationship with CARPHA and the Pan- American Health Organization (PAHO) and would explore the need to test for the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. (Vishani Ragobeer)

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