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COVID-19 variants of concern identified

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Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2021. 4:02 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize has officially confirmed the presence of variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19.

Samples of 81 persons tested by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., found 20 positive for variants of concern (VOC) while the other sixty-one did not, suggesting they have the “classic” form of the virus.

Among those positive with a variant of the virus, nine were found with the Delta variant originally found in India; five for the Alpha V1 or English variant; three for the Gamma or Japanese/Brazilian variant; and three for the Epsilon or California variant which is only of interest, not a concern as cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. The variants identified so far are from residents of the Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize, and Cayo districts.

SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern refer to the genetic changes of the original virus that may cause significant community transmission or multiple clusters with a significant increase in the clinical presentation of the disease.

There is no indication of how each variant got into the country or how pervasive each is at the moment.

The Ministry of Health & Wellness surveillance teams continue the hard work of contact tracing. Persons who are diagnosed COVID-19 positive must strictly comply with isolation or quarantine measures. They are advised to collaborate with the surveillance team, provide all necessary data for contact tracing, and get tested if they believe they have been exposed or are presenting symptoms related to the disease.

The Ministry further urges the public to get vaccinated, adhere to physical distancing measures, wear a face mask properly while in public and wash and sanitize hands often. Vaccinated persons are less likely to get infected and spread the disease, and if infected, they are less likely to present severe illness or to be hospitalized due to COVID-19.

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