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St. Lucia: Officials monitoring new COVID-19 variants

February 14, 2023

CMC – Health authorities here say they are closely monitoring the emergence of new coronavirus (COVID-19) variants and sub-variants as St. Lucia recorded one death and 178 new infections over a 30 day period.

“At present, we have sequenced about 12 sub-variants of omicron circulating in country,” Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Sharon Belmar-George said, as the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs said it had noted increases in respiratory illnesses over a wide range of age groups, impacting the education sector significantly.

The Ministry said that while, globally, nearly 10.5 million new cases and over 90 000 deaths linked to the COVID-19 pandemic were reported in the last 28 days, ending February, 5, a decrease of 89 per cent and eight per cent, respectively, compared to the previous 28 days.

It said current trends in reported COVID-19 cases are underestimates of the true number of global infections and reinfections. This is partly due to the reduction in testing and delays in reporting in many countries. The number of newly reported 28-day cases decreased or remained stable across all World Health Organization (WHO) regions.

It said at the regional level, in the last four weeks leading up to February 6, 2023, the number of laboratory confirmed cases has remained relatively low in Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) member states.

The CMO said locally, over the last 30 days ending February 6, “we have recorded a total of 178 cases of COVID-19 and one death.

She said the Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the emergence of new variants and sub variants of COVID-19.

“At present we have sequenced about 12 sub-variants of omicron circulating in country. In addition to COVID-19 there are other respiratory viruses in circulation which may possess similar clinical presentation to COVID-19. In several countries, there has been a steep increase in cases of influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).”
The authorities said that over the last few weeks, parents note that children seem to be developing recurrent respiratory infections.

“Most of the cases are mild in nature. This trend is anticipated as the measures that were placed during the management of Covid-19 also reduced the regular influenza cases over the last three years. Our population is now exposed to many different strains of influenza virus at this point.”

The ministry said to reduce the impact, several measures should be followed including keeping healthy by consuming healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and water instead of sodas as well as maintain sanitary measures at home and at school.

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