Omicron variant officially confirmed in Guyana

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The presence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been officially confirmed here, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony revealed on Wednesday.

Twenty samples were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago for genomic sequencing about two weeks ago and according to Dr Anthony, 19 samples returned positive for the highly transmissible variant.

“Of the 20 samples that we have sent, 19 came back positive for Omicron, one was indeterminant because the sample itself apparently, it did not have enough genetic material in the sample to be able to sequence it,” Dr Anthony revealed during his daily COVID-19 update.

The samples were sent in February, one month after Dr Anthony stated that some 50 samples were selected to be sent to CARPHA, but he later revealed that those samples were never sent due to shipping issues.

Between December 2021 and January/February 2022, Guyana recorded a rapid increase in cases and health authorities linked it to the presence of the Omicron variant – which is more transmissible than other variants.

Meanwhile, Guyana has managed to procure a genetic sequencing machine and it is expected that the government will be able to test for the variants locally.

The machine was received through a malaria project but it can also be used to test for COVID variants.

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