COVID-19 update and question and answer session – January 04, 2021. (PMO)

Government will be monitoring the new strain of COVID-19 reported in the United Kingdom (UK), with help from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

Chairman of the Cabinet’s COVID-19 Sub-committee, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, stated this as he addressed the issue of whether the new strain from the UK was present in Barbados, during a COVID-19 update to the nation at Ilaro Court, on Monday.

Dr. Walcott noted that he had previously stated that Government had sought the assistance from PAHO in terms of having the genomic identification and testing done, regarding the reported new variant of the COVID-19 in the UK.

Minister Walcott went on to add: “I’ve subsequently discovered that CARPHA is offering that service, and we’re making arrangements for samples to be sent to CARPHA, as soon as possible.”

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, weighing in on the matter, noted that the reported variant strain of COVID-19 in the UK was not the first mutation of the virus, and she was informed that there had been at least four mutations of the virus since its start. She said the strain in question was reported to have been around since September last year.

Ms. Mottley stressed: “What is important is that the protocols to fight it are the same; the therapeutics are the same to combat it, and the individual actions that we must take are all the same. So, whether it is an old virus or new virus, it is the same virus that we have to fight in the same way in which we were fighting the old one.”

In addition, she pointed out that persons needed to take their own actions to protect themselves, whether it was against an old or new strain of the virus, which include following the already established protocols of wearing a mask; practising good hand hygiene (hand washing and using hand sanitiser) and social distancing.

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