The Ministry of Health & Wellness has been advised that the latest gene sequencing results from the National Influenza Centre at the University Hospital of the West Indies have indicated the presence of the Omicron BA.2 variant in Jamaica.
Eighty-nine (89) samples were sequenced with sample dates from January 1 to March 4, 2022. Of those, 98.9 % were Omicron variants and 1.1 % Delta variant. Of the Omicron samples, two (2) of 88 or 2.3 % were BA.2 variant and 97.7% were BA.1 variant.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie cautioned that “the BA.2 variant according to World Health Organization (WHO) is the dominant variant globally and the type of illness associated with this variant is similar to the BA.1 variant. The Variant is highly transmissible and as a result, there may be an increase in number of COVID-19 cases.”
“While majority of cases appear to be mild, persons with comorbidities are at risk for severe illness and persons who have mild symptoms and no symptoms may be at risk for developing long COVID. The public is therefore encouraged to practice infection prevention and control measures, including wearing of masks, hand washing, physical distancing and staying home if you are sick,” added the CMO.
The Ministry of Health & Wellness reminds the public that vaccines are widely available and protects against severe illness. All persons 12 years and older should visit any of the over 200 vaccination centres to be vaccinated if they have not already done so. Persons who are eligible for boosters are encouraged to take the booster dose now as their level of protection may have waned over time.