ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) — Antigua and Barbuda have become the latest Caribbean country to confirm the presence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as the island recorded increased cases of the virus.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment in a statement said that the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) had confirmed the variant.
“While Ministry of Health officials have suspected the presence of Omicron in Antigua and Barbuda, this is the first certified confirmation of the variant’s presence,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) has so far confirmed five variants of concern (VOCs) circulating globally and that Antigua and Barbuda has been sending samples to CARPHA for genomic sequencing to detect variants since October 2020.
As a result of the Ministry of Health’s increased surveillance, all five VOCs have now been identified in Antigua and Barbuda.
“This reinforces the fact that we must continue to adhere to the public health measures to prevent and control the disease. These include physical and social distancing, using face masks and practising hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
“The public is further reminded that vaccination is one of the most effective measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic. Persons are therefore urged to get fully vaccinated and get their boosters utilising the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines readily available at our vaccination centres.”
The ministry said that 229 new COVID infections were recorded over the period January 1-4 following the 203 cases detected over the period December 27 to December 31 last year.