By Shermain Bique-Charles
The country’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas said health officials have identified three cases of Covid’s Omicron variant among the 499 active cases in Antigua and Barbuda to date.
On Thursday, without releasing the exact number, the Ministry of Health disclosed that the fast spreading but seemingly less deadly Omicron variant had reached the shores of the twin islands.
And, as part of the Ministry of Health’s regular sequencing for Covid-19 and surveillance, samples were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) where the three cases were detected.
Dr Sealey-Thomas told Observer yesterday that Omicron is more transmissible than the other variants, hence the need for residents to continue to take serious precaution.
“If it’s more transmissible, it means we need to be even more vigilant with protocols, social and public health measures to control the disease. We need to continue to practice social and physical distancing, the things that we have been preaching, we need to get vaccinated,” she said.
Meanwhile, the CMO pointed out that another matter of concern for health officials was the large number of cases among children.
“We have been seeing, over the last two weeks, an increase in paediatric cases. We are seeing an increase in the number of children showing up with symptoms and that has been seen worldwide with Omicron,” she said.
The common symptoms among children, according to Dr Sealey-Thomas, include diarrhoea, vomiting and decreased appetite.
The CMO also foresees an increase in cases over the next few weeks but is encouraging the public to comply with the health protocols to mitigate against that.
“I am most fearful that in the next few weeks, the number of cases will continue to rise. I am also fearful that people will not continue to do the right thing to prevent transmission and controlling the epidemic in Antigua and Barbuda,” Dr Sealey-Thomas added.