Samples Showing UK COVID-19 Variant in Jamaica

Fifty samples were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing to determine variant strains of the COVID-19 virus. Only ten were found suitable for sequencing.

Of the ten samples, seven were found to be that of the United Kingdom variant, while the remaining three had mutations that are not of concern, but are being investigated in the United States and the UK.

Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton says the Ministry is in the process of acquiring equipment to allow for testing of the different variants in Jamaica.

Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology, Dr.  Peter Figueroa says it comes as no surprise that the UK variant is in Jamaica.

Additionally, there have been mixed reactions to the lifting of the UK travel ban which will take effect on May 1, 2021.  

Jamaica will reopen its borders to international visitors from the United Kingdom who are fully compliant with the health and safety protocols required for international travel.

Professor Figueroa says he is not against this move as the surge has passed in the UK and the country is increasingly vaccinating its population.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says the lifting of the ban also comes against the background of the improved vaccination programme in the UK.

Robian Williams reports for CVM Live: