Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs is concerned over the diagnosis of the Island’s first case of the BA.5 variant of COVID-19 involving a woman with no travel history, signalling transmission of the variant within the community.
Recently Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Sharon Belmar-George announced that the infected individual is a 36-year-old female from Vieux Fort.
“This suggests in-country transmission of BA5 and the presence of other cases,” Belmar-George explained.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Glensford Joseph disclosed that the infected individual is young, vibrant, and active.
And in expressing concern about the positive diagnosis, Joseph told Good Morning Saint Lucia on Hot 7 Television that Saint Lucia is emerging from its sixth COVID-19 wave.
“We do have relaxation of many of the protocols as we try to balance the public health and the economy but we recognise that BA.5 is more transmissible the the other COVID-19 variants that we would have seen so far,” Joseph noted.
The senior medical official said health authorities continue to reach out to identify any other BA.5 cases.
He said that the virus affects people vaccinated against COVID-19 and persons who had COVID-19 in the past with some level of natural immunity due to infection.
“Hence it is of concern to us that if we have a significant spread of this BA.5 then we could be heading into the seventh wave knowing that we are having so many mass crowd activities on Island,” Joseph told programme Host Shannon Lebourne.
Global Health authorities say BA.5 to date is the most easily transmissible COVID variant, evading previous immunity from COVID infection and vaccination.
The symptoms of BA.5 are similar to previous COVID variants, including fever, runny nose, coughing, sore throat, headaches, muscle pain, and fatigue.
According to reports, officials estimate that the fast-spreading virus accounted for 65% of the coronavirus variants in the United States as of last week.
Headline photo: Dr. Glensford Joseph (Stock image)