Samples from recent COVID deaths to be sent for testing- Dr. Anthony

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Three persons diagnosed with COVID-19 have died this week alone and the Ministry of Health intends to send their genetic samples abroad to determine what variant of the coronavirus is causing these deaths.

This is according to Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony, who spoke during his daily COVID-19 update on Thursday.

In response to what appears to be a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and deaths, the minister said hospital staff around the country are on alert and prepared to treat patients, with each hospital having space and facilities available for in-house care.

He, however, highlighted that there is concern over what variant of the disease is being spread and whether it is among newer variants which were not detected in Guyana.

Variants of the coronavirus have been devastating countries, threatening an extension of lockdown measures.

As such, he said the samples were taken and will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for sequence testing.

“We have made arrangements to send them [samples] to be sequenced. Because we want to understand which variant is circulating here and whether it’s the same variant that is causing death among our patients so this is something that we would do routinely to get an idea on what is circulating and (what) to look out for.”

Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony

A spike in COVID-19 cases and a resurgence of related fatalities have been observed in November. Comparatively, there were no COVID related deaths in October, which had a total of 87 cases on record.

“November we already have three deaths and we have 107 cases thus far- there seems to be an upward tick in terms of cases and more persons need hospitalisation,” Dr. Anthony highlighted.

On November 21, two men from Region Six died as a result of the disease, the ministry reported. Then on November 23, a woman also from Region Six was reported to have died as a result of being infected with COVID-19. The vaccination status of two of the persons was unknown, while one was unvaccinated.

These fatalities take the country’s overall number of COVID-19 deaths to 1,284.

The variants of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, that causes the disease COVID-19, emerge due to continued spread from person to person.

When variants emerge and become variants of concern, it is because they have become more transmissible (or, more easily spread) and in some cases, because they may evade the body’s immune response to fight off infection.

Dr. Anthony has warned that persons should get vaccinated and boosted to build their immune system to fight the virus.

“At this point in time, we are really encouraging people if you’ve had your vaccines more than six months ago, or four months ago, it is time for you to come back and get either your booster shots or your vaccination,” he said.

There are several variants of concern that have emerged thus far.

The original variant was the Alpha that originated in the United Kingdom last year.

The more dominant variant right now is the Delta that emerged in India.

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