Health officials have confirmed that the current COVID-19 outbreak in the Virgin Islands is not connected to the Omicron variant based on testing done thus far.
As of the 31st of December 2021, there are 423 reported active cases of COVID
-19, with the majority 322 on Tortola. Over the last seven days from the 24th of December 363 new cases of COVID
-19 have been reported and new cases continue to be reported daily
According to Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronald Georges, all samples previously sent to CARPHA for typing were positive for the Delta variant and over the last two weeks more than 90 samples were sent for genetic typing to determine if the Omicron variant has been introduced into the Territory.
"At this time, the Omicron variant has not yet been identified in the Territory. The Ministry of Health will very closely be monitoring hospitalisations, the reason for hospitalisation, and the severity of illness to gauge the progress of this outbreak," Dr. Georges stated.
He added, "If this outbreak is found to be related to Omicron we can expect a sharper and quicker increase in cases than in previous outbreaks. Evidence suggests that Omicron results in milder disease, fewer hospitalisation, less severe disease, and less death than Delta, but leads to many more infections."
Dr. Georges cautioned that the Virgin Islands
has very high rates of obesity and chronic diseases and persons in this category have a much higher rate of severe disease, hospitalisation, and death and so any outbreak is cause for concern.
Health officials continue to be very concerned that some people continue to not heed the advice to restrict movement and gatherings.
"We continue to see large gatherings and lack of adherence to measures. The public is strongly advised to avoid all large gatherings, and to strictly adhere to the public health protocols. We are asking all organisers to do the responsible thing and defer large gatherings at this time. If you do have a gathering do ensure that there is strict mask-wearing and adherence to public health measures at these events and that numbers of persons are limited," Dr. Georges stated.
TDr. Georges stated that vaccination and in particular booster doses offer very good protection against the severe impacts of COVID
-19 including variants.
"We are urging all of you to therefore avail yourselves of opportunities to be vaccinated with either the AstraZeneca
or receive your Booster dose. If you have completed your primary two or one dose regime at least three months ago you should seek to have your Pfizer
Booster dose. If you are severely immunocompromised from chemotherapy, high dose steroids or other reason you should have a third dose of Pfizer
and three months later your Booster dose of Pfizer
is available for those with demonstrated allergy to Pfizer
," Dr. Georges stated.
The symptoms of COVID
include, fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you or anyone you know have these symptoms you or they should immediately isolate and seek to be tested either by rapid test or PCR test.