Image courtesy PAHO.

CARPHA, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, is urging regional governments to step up their vigilance as the Agency continues to see COVID variants show up in the samples it is testing for Caribbean countries.

In an advisory issued today, CARPHA reports that its Medical Microbiology Laboratory (CMML), responsible for testing samples for suspected COVID-19 cases, has detected cases of the UK variant in several countries, as well as other “variants of concern”.

“While no cases of the Brazil or South Africa variant have been detected in the Region, U.S. variants of concern and a variant similar to the Brazil variant have been detected,” the CARPHA statement reported.

CARPHA warns there can be no room for complacency.

“CARPHA urges Member States to remain vigilant and continue to enhance their surveillance capacity to screen, identify, test, quarantine, isolate and trace contacts of new cases supported by public health prevention and control measures,” the release stated.

Since December 2020, CARPHA has been working with the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine on genome sequencing for regional states.  Countries have been requested to send an allocation of ten samples per month which meet the requirements for sequencing.

The regional health body says it will continue to “provide technical support, advice and the highest quality service to help inform decision makers in its Member States… during this critical phase of the pandemic and beyond”.