Officials in St. Lucia say the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed the country’s first case of the BA.5 variant of the coronavirus.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Sharon Belmar-George revealed the case is a 36 year old female from Vieux Fort who does not have a history of travel, suggesting in-country transmission of BA.5 and the presence of other cases.
Dr. Belmar-George reminded the public the threat of COVID-19 still exists, especially given St. Lucia’s low immunization rate.
Figures released by the Ministry of Health on Monday, showed that as of July 8th, the island has diagnosed a total of 27,254 cases of COVID-19 with 143 active cases.
It said the daily infection rate for the last seven days is 11.4 per 100,000 population per day, with a 20 per cent average testing positivity rate and a transmission rate of 0.91.
The CMO says the actual number of positive cases may be higher than recorded, due to the general hesitance by the population to testing of symptomatic and direct contacts of cases.
The Omicron Variant of Concern (VOC) continues to be the dominant variant circulating, with the proportions of BA.4 and BA.5 increasing.
BA.4 and BA.5 are the fastest spreading variants reported to date.
COVID-19 vaccination is still expected to provide substantial protection against severe disease although it is noted that the coverage is lowest with these variants as compared to the original disease.