The Ministry of Health has confirmed the country’s first case of the highly infectious UK variant of COVID-19 (Variant B117). The strain was found in a repatriated national who recently returned from the UK.”The presence of the variant was confirmed via a gene sequencing study at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, the University of the West Indies, which has been testing COVID-19 positive samples collected since September 2020,” a release from the Ministry stated.
According to the Ministry, all COVID-19 protocols were followed to prevent the strain’s introduction into the population including a negative PCR test which was taken 72-hours prior to the patient’s departure from the United Kingdom. “Upon arrival in Trinidad and Tobago, the national was immediately placed in state quarantine, in a single room.
The patient was transferred directly to an isolation area at the Couva Hospital and Multi-training Facility once the positive COVID-19 result was confirmed.”The Ministry has increased its quarantine protocol for travellers coming into T&T within 14 days of leaving the UK and the mandatory quarantine period upon arrival in the country has been increased from seven days to 14.
The COVID-19 variant. which was identified by UK scientists last month, was responsible for heightened lockdowns in the United Kingdom. There is no evidence that the strain is more deadly, however, experts believe it is at least 50 per cent more transmissible—spreading more easily from person to person. It is one of three strains currently engaging the attention of experts globally along with South Africa and Brazilian variants.
Reporter: Rishard Khan