Two new COVID-19 Omicron variants have been found in the British Virgin Islands.
Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Ronald Georges is therefore reminding the public to remain vigilant.
In a press release by the Ministry of Health, Dr Georges noted that as of July 8, there are 24 reported actives cases of COVID
-19 in the territory.
“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
,” the Acting CMO said.
He explained that the World Health Organization (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 Organization 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 face masks, 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 seven days and end isolation if they test negative by rapid test or after 10 days with no test.
It has been exactly one month since the Minister of Health Marlon Penn announced several changes to the COVID
-19 protocols in the territory.
This includes the announcement that face masks and face coverings, whether indoors or outdoors are no longer mandated by law but are allowed as a matter of choice in public spaces.