Samples to confirm presence of Omicron here still to be sent to Trinidad – Health Minister

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Some 50 COVID positive samples have been selected to send to Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) to confirm the presence of the Omicron variant here but Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony says that these samples have not been sent as yet.

“This week we expect to ship those samples,” the Health Minister said on Monday while responding to questions from the News Room during his daily COVID-19 update.

When asked last week Wednesday during an emergency press conference whether samples were sent for testing,  President Dr. Irfaan Ali said that the process was “ongoing” and that it would take about two weeks to get back those results.

But on Monday, when asked for further details, the Health Minister said that the samples had been collected but that the “arrangements for shipping” were now being put in place.

He said that these samples were collected after December 28; this is so because it was only then that there was a surge in cases that signalled the possible presence of the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant.

These samples will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in T&T. Guyana has a pre-existing relationship with this agency to conduct a special type of scientific test known as genomic sequencing to identify the presence of variants.

Once those samples are transported, the Health Minister said that it would normally take about two or three weeks before Guyana will receive the results.

Last year, CARPHA was able to confirm the presence of the deadly Delta variant of the novel coronavirus here after the local health authorities sent about 50 samples.

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