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By Elesha George
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The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas has revealed that most of the parishes in Antigua have been affected by Covid-19, while there have been no known cases on Barbuda.

“Most parishes, if not all parishes in Antigua and Barbuda, have been affected and because of our small size, once we have a case we consider it to be in Antigua. We don’t have a vast geographical expanse like other countries where they speak about localised or pockets of the outbreak,” she told the press on Tuesday.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health (MOH) reveal that the number of male and female patients who have been infected with Covid-19 is almost equal. Of the 111 confirmed cases recorded as of October 13, 2020, 56 were female and 55 were male, which includes three children under the age of 12.

Fifteen of the total cases at that time were detected through contact tracing.

“We are currently monitoring a particular cluster of active cases and out of that cluster, we have one index case and 10 persons that we picked up through contact tracing,” the CMO shared.

Meanwhile, the majority of the people who have been infected with coronavirus have been reported as being asymptomatic and displayed mild symptoms which did not require them to be hospitalised.

Dr Sealey-Thomas explained that “hospitalisations have not been as we had anticipated, fortunately for us. The last hospitalisation that we had was in July of this year, and majority of our patients have had mild symptoms or would have been asymptomatic.”

Patients between the ages of 30-59 are said to be those most affected by the respiratory illness.

Spikes in confirmed cases were recorded in June and July of this year – the first two months after the ports of entries were reopened. These two months represent 91 per cent of the recorded imported cases during that period.

However, in September the ministry recognised a reversal of the trend, where the CMO said that 90 per cent of the 12 cases recorded were domestic or non-imported cases.

“In March we had seven cases, in April we had 18 – we actually saw a peak. In May we went down to one case and then in June we saw an increase in the number of cases. In fact, in June, we see that that’s the month we’ve seen the most number of cases in Antigua and Barbuda with 44 cases. In July, we saw a slight decline with 22 cases, in August we had four cases, in September 12 and to date for October we have had four confirmed cases,” she explained.

Over 20,000 people have been quarantined since January 2020.

“We would have started in January when the disease was first detected in China. We had flights coming in from China and we would have quarantined those persons,” the CMO shared.

Since last reporting the statistics on Tuesday, the MOH has recorded an additional domestic case and three new recoveries. This brought the number of active cases to date to nine and the total number of confirmed cases overall, to 112.

There is currently no known cure for Covid-19, however Dr Sealey-Thomas said those who fall ill are being treated for specific symptoms, like providing ventilation for persons with severe disease.

The country is depending on an access facility called COVAX to secure thousands of vaccines once one is discovered.
COVAX was developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Commission and France to help find a Covid vaccine and to ensure that everyone in the world has fair access to it.

Once a vaccine is discovered, the CMO said that Antigua and Barbuda will receive 20,000 doses in the first instance.

She explained that “all countries have been invited to participate and it gives us the opportunity to get the vaccine at a fair rate when it becomes available … we have estimated using a formula developed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) that in the first phase, we will probably get about 20,000 doses and CARPHA as well has organised for us, through a grant from the European Union, for us to have the funds available for that vaccine”.

The CMO said she is very optimistic about the discovery of a vaccination for Covid-19, believing that it is one of the public health measures that will assist nationally and globally in dealing with the virus.

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