KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) – St Vincent and the Grenadines says five cases of the Mu variant of COVID-19 have been detected in the country and health authorities are warning that the latest strain of the coronavirus is more transmittable and able to escape the immune response making it more dangerous.
The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) said in a statement that the five cases of the Mu variant were detected following a review of sequencing results for samples sent to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
It said that the five cases were detected between July 19 and August 9 and that “all cases were detected within the community as contacts of other positive cases and from persons seeking healthcare.
“In view of the confirmed presence of the Mu variant of interest in the community and the increased risk of infection and subsequent transmission of COVID-19 posed by the growing incidence of variants of concern in persons entering St Vincent and the Grenadines, strict compliance with all protocols and recommendations is strongly recommended. These include the effective use of masks, physical distancing, hand sanitising and immunisation with available vaccines,” NEMO said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the variant B.1.621 – Mu, a variant of interest, describing it as one that has genetic differences to the other known variants and is causing infections in multiple countries.
Mu is the fifth “variant of interest” to be monitored by WHO since March 2020. The WHO weekly COVID-19 bulletin states that this variant of interest “has a constellation of mutations” that may make it less susceptible to vaccines and immunity from natural infections.
NEMO also reported that there had been four new cases of COVID-19 from 36 samples processed on Monday, resulting in a positivity rate of 11.1 per cent.
It said that five new recoveries were noted over the reporting period and that 65 cases are currently active, while 12 persons with COVID-19 have died.
The island has recorded 2,389 cases of COVID-19 and 2, 312 recoveries since March last year.