The Ministry of Health & Wellness says it has been advised that the latest gene sequencing results from the National Influenza Centre at the University Hospital of the West Indies indicate the presence of the Omicron BA.2 variant in Jamaica.
In a release Thursday, the ministry said 89 samples were sequenced with sample dates from January 1 to March 4, 2022. Of those, 98.9 per cent were Omicron variants and 1.1 per cent Delta variant. Of the Omicron samples, two of 88 or 2.3 per cent were BA.2 variant, and 97.7 per cent were BA.1 variant.
“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 the number of COVID-19 cases,” Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, cautioned.
“While the 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 also reminded the public that vaccines are widely available and protect against severe illness.