The Government will be sending another batch of positive COVID-19 samples to the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) this week to test for other variants of the virus, including the Brazilian and the South African strains.
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton confirmed on March 8 that the highly contagious United Kingdom variant was detected in Jamaica based on the results of the testing of seven of eight samples by CARPHA.
Those samples were randomly taken from the parishes of St Catherine, St James, Clarendon, Trelawny, Kingston and St Andrew.
During a press briefing this morning, chief medical officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie noted that CARPHA will be testing for emerging variants as well.
Bisasor-McKenzie confirmed that some persons previously diagnosed with the virus have since been reinfected, a matter that is being probed.
“We’ve had one or two cases that appear to be re-infections and those are being investigated. We had indicated before that the possibility of the UK strain being in country could lead to persons being infected again with another strain,” she said.
Dr Je-Vaughn Wynter, a medical practitioner at the University Hospital of the West Indies told The Gleaner recently that he got COVID-19 twice while working on the frontline.
The health practitioner said he tested positive in September 2020 and a second time six months later.
He noted that a few of his colleagues have also been infected twice.
As frontline workers continue the fight to provide care to those with the virus, the health minister revealed that 180 nurses are currently infected or under quarantine.
Jamaica reported 335 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and an additional six deaths.
A total of 36,231 cases have now been recorded, with 18, 947 currently active.
Bisasor-McKenzie noted that a disregard for the COVID-19 protocols is contributing to the rise increasing in infections.
Many Jamaicans have not been wearing their masks properly, thereby exposing themselves to further risks, she noted.
“Our observational studies are showing that 0 to 51 per cent of persons are not wearing masks at any particular time in different parts of the island,” she said.
She also indicated that preliminary data from a Labour Force Survey conducted in January 2021 by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica highlighted that one in four persons are still attending public gatherings, for example, parties.