#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2021 – The appearance of variants is part of the normal cycle of viral infection and replication and should not be considered an unusual process. Because the variants appear more frequently the more subjects become infected, it is essential to maintain all the measures that prevent the occurrence of new infections (use of masks, washing hands, social distancing, avoiding crowds, etc.).
The appearance of new variants does not justify in any way the interruption of the vaccination campaigns against SARS-CoV-2. Cutting the transmission chains through preventive measures and the application of vaccines should be the primary objective at this stage of pandemic. Both the measures mentioned above, and the mass vaccination of the population will help in the fight against the disease and the eventual end of the pandemic.
CARPHA remains committed to providing technical support and advice and continues to conduct tests for suspected COVID-19 cases for all CARPHA Member States (CMS) routinely as requested. In collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine Campus, CARPHA started conducting whole genome sequencing for CARICOM countries in December 2020. So far CARPHA has detected cases of the UK variant in several member states. No cases of the Brazil or South Africa variant have been detected.
Earlier today, CARPHA met with the Region’s Chief Medical Officers to discuss several public health issues, including those related to the fight against COVID-19 disease.
CARPHA continues to work with its regional and international partners and CMS, towards a harmonised regional response. The overarching goal is for all countries to control the pandemic by slowing down the transmission of disease and reducing mortality associated with COVID-19. In this regard, we urge countries to continue ramping up their surveillance capacity to rapidly screen, identify, test, isolate and trace contacts of new cases supported by public health prevention and control measures of social distancing, wearing of masks, and hand hygiene.
We also recognise the important role that the vaccination programmes will play and are quite pleased with the efforts of the countries so far in vaccinating the vulnerable older persons in their population and front-line workers.