Health Minister Ian Gooding-Edghill has confirmed the presence of omicron subvariant, BA.2, in Barbados.
Last week, following a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Minister of Health and Wellness disclosed that samples will be sent to Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for investigation.
In a statement to the media this evening, Gooding-Edghill revealed that 90 per cent of the samples sent to CARPHA tested positive for the BA.2 subvariant.
“Based on the results of samples sent to the CARPHA lab in Trinidad for analysis I am now confirming that the BA.2 subvariant of COVID does exist in Barbados. In fact, 90 per cent of the samples sent to CARPHA were found to be positive for this omicron variant which is highly contagious but which does not generally lead to serious illness,” said the Minister of Health.
From March 28, the island’s positivity rate increased. Since then, the island has recorded 5,104 new infections. Today marked a record high of 28 per cent, as health officials reported 428 new positives out of 1,357 samples tested on April 13.
Gooding-Edghill reminded Barbadians, that the BA.2 subvariant is reportedly more transmissible than the BA.1 by 50 to 80 per cent and urged citizens to continue to enforce mask-wearing, physical distancing, good hygiene practices as well as good ventilation.
He further urged unvaccinated individuals to get the vaccine and pushed for those who have received two doses of the two-dose vaccine to get the booster.
“There is overwhelming evidence internationally that vaccination and boosting remain crucial to minimising chances of serious illness and possible death.”
Recognising Easter weekend is upon us, the Minister of Health stated there will be no tightening of the protocols. However, he beseeched the public to show restraint and to follow the public health safety measures.
“As we head into our long Easter weekend, I once again advise the tightening of any of the protocols is not being considered but at the same time.
I am sure that Barbadians as a whole will practice restraint, discipline and moderation with their social activities and interactions over the next few days. The reality is that we have to grow accustomed to managing COVID with the same levelheadedness and common sense that we exercise with challenges and areas of our daily national lives,” said Gooding-Edghill.