He also noted that at least two Omicron variants are present in the territory.
“As of July 8, there are 24 reported active cases of COVID-19 in the Territory, Dr Georges said. He added, “After genetic testing, BA.2 and BA.4 Omicron variants have been found to be circulating within the Virgin Islands community while the BA 2.75 variant identified in India has not been identified in the Virgin Islands.”
Dr Georges, in a Government Information Services (GIS) press release on July 13, 2022, explained that the World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern while BA.4, BA.5, and various sub-lineages of BA.2 remain under monitoring by the World Health Organisation at this time.
He said BA.4 and BA.5 are expected to replace existing variants in Europe and North America in the coming weeks to months.
According to the Acting Chief Medical Officer, the main concern with new variants in particular BA.4 and BA.5 is their ability to escape both natural and vaccine-derived immunity and lead to high numbers of infections.
“The public is therefore urged to take appropriate precautions to prevent infection where necessary. This may include the wearing of facemasks, frequent hand hygiene, and general sanitation,” Dr Georges cautioned.
The Ministry of Health is advising persons who are ill or suspect that they may have COVID-19 or have been exposed to the disease to be tested to confirm their status.
Persons who are positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate for a period of 7 days and end isolation if they test negative by rapid test or after 10 days with no test.