No decision yet on UK travel ban amid new COVID-19 strain
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— Health Ministry awaiting guidance from CARPHA

THE Ministry of Health has not yet banned travel from the United Kingdom (UK), where a mutation of COVID-19 has emerged, but is awaiting further scientific information to guide any decision, as advised by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

During his daily COVID-19 update, Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, related that Guyana’s Health Ministry held discussions with CARPHA on Monday, in an attempt to get a Caribbean consensus on how these travel bans would be approached.

“Our advice from CARPHA was that we should wait a little bit and to get more scientific information before we make a decision,” Dr. Anthony said.

Over the past few days, a mutation of the virus COVID-19 has been recorded in the UK and this has prompted many countries to ban travel from this country, to mitigate the spread of this mutation. So far, the BBC reported that the mutated virus has shown an increased ability of infecting cells and that it is also spreading more easily. It, however, has not proven more deadly.

Dr. Anthony indicated that virologists have been contacted so that the impact of the mutations can be understood and confirmed. Two Caribbean countries– Jamaica and Grenada– have already instituted travel bans on persons travelling from the UK, however.

On Tuesday, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Narine Singh, also met with key stakeholders in an attempt to prepare Guyana’s medical response team for the possibility that the new strain may spread to Guyana and what actions may be needed.

Guyana has had 6,216 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March. Of this number, 5,385 persons have recovered while there have been 160 deaths. There are currently 831 active cases, but the Health Ministry has continuously said that many of these infected persons are asymptomatic– meaning they are not displaying any of the common symptoms of COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health reported, on Tuesday morning, that the latest fatality is a 73-year-old male from Region Five. The man died while receiving care at a medical facility. There are five persons in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 15 in institutional quarantine, 31 in institutional isolation and 635 in home isolation.

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