Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 18, 2021 (SKNIS): A more easily transmissible variant of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus known as the Delta variant was confirmed in one of the samples that was sent abroad for genomic sequencing. This was revealed by the Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph Nathaniel France (JNF) General Hospital, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, during the August 17 edition of Leadership Matters.
“Samples were sent off to CARPHA [Caribbean Public Health Agency] for genomic sequencing on July 28. The results returned over the last 24 to 48 hours confirmed the presence of the Delta variant in one of the samples tested,” said Dr. Wilkinson, adding that the positive case was an inbound passenger who was in quarantine and has since recovered. “It is comforting to know that the Delta variant was found in someone who was in quarantine and has since recovered and was not found at large in the community.”
Dr. Wilkinson noted that several countries in the region including Trinidad and Tobago; Grenada; Martinique; Guadeloupe; Barbados; Puerto Rico; Anguilla; Saba, the United States Virgin Islands, and St. Martin already have the Delta variant. He noted that it was only a matter of time before it reached the shores of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“It was not a matter of if but when it was going to arrive and that we all needed to prepare for this eventuality. We will not be spared, and we must be prepared. If too many persons remain vulnerable and become infected with this variant our healthcare system will be overwhelmed and people will die. The unvaccinated among us are at greatest risk…”
The Delta variant was first detected in India in October 2020 and has rapidly surpassed the other strains to become the most transmissible variant of COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In May, the global health body declared it as a “variant of global concern”.
“The Delta variant is the most contagious variant we have seen of all the variants so far. The World Health Organization has called it the fastest and fittest of all variants,” said the Medical Chief of Staff. “Without vaccination and mask, an infected person with the original virus will infect 2.5 other persons. Under the same conditions, a person infected with the Delta variant will infect nine other persons. Some data suggest that the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous strains in unvaccinated persons.”