Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
Residents of the Virgin Islands are asked to remain vigilant and adhere to the COVID-19 protocols as the Mu and Delta variants continue to circulate in the Virgin Islands.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronald Georges said genetic typing on samples collected between August 27 and 31 which met the criteria for sequencing by Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) identified four samples positive for B.1.621.1 also known as the Mu variant and classified by World Health Organization (WHO) as a Variant of Interest, and one case of AY.4 also known as the Delta variant and classified by WHO as a Variant of Concern.
Dr. Georges said, “The Mu and Delta variants should be considered to be circulating in the Territory and, of note, of samples typed over the last two batches only Mu and Delta variants have been identified.” He further stated that the cases identified were all appropriately quarantined and cleared.
The Acting Chief Medical Officer said persons should continue to take precautions and adhere to public health measures and any quarantine orders that they have been given.
“Cases have been identified among both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons with most cases not requiring hospitalisation at this time,” Dr. Georges said adding, “There have been few cases requiring hospitalisation specifically for treatment of COVID-19 symptoms and others who have been hospitalised for other reasons and happen to be COVID-19 positive over the period.”
The Acting Chief Medical Officer said that just about half of the population has received two doses of vaccine and while this is beneficial to assist with lessening the spread and impact of COVID-19, there are still many vulnerable persons particularly those with underlying chronic conditions who can still benefit from vaccination.
Dr. Georges explained that the Mu first identified in Columbia is now identified in 58 countries worldwide and has the potential to become a ‘variant of concern’ as it has several mutations that indicate it may have potential for immune escape, and greater transmissibility. He said this and its other characteristics and potential impact continue to be studied while the Delta remains the main variant of concern at this time.
“Immune escape is the ability of virus to evade natural immunity, monoclonal antibody treatment, and vaccine derived immunity potentially making the virus more resistant to vaccines than other types. While Mu variant has been seen to increase in Ecuador and Columbia it has still failed to out compete Delta,” Dr. Georges added.
The Acting Chief Medical Officer said the Government of the Virgin Islands continues to make changes to help stimulate necessary economic activity which include reduction of entry requirements, opening and operation of schools and day cares, and the entry of cruise and other tourism related traffic into the Territory.
“It is imperative that as these measures are reduced that adherence to public health measures and quarantine and other measures are enhanced,” Dr. Georges said, adding, “All persons should therefore continue to adhere to all quarantine requirements to limit the spread of COVID-19 and all positive cases should ensure that they follow the isolation guidelines and continue to take every opportunity to get vaccinated.”
The Government of the Virgin Islands is committed to improving the health of the people of the Virgin Islands.