By Makeida Antonio
A top official in the Ministry of Health (MoH) has expressed some hesitancy in commenting on the possibility of the Covid-19 pandemic coming to an end worldwide and more specifically in Antigua and Barbuda.
Scientists in South Africa, where the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was first detected, have given some hope that the end of the pandemic could be near. A study released on Friday indicates that despite the high number of infections as a result of the high transmission rate, deaths have been relatively low compared to previous variants.
Additionally, South African health experts have reported that the country’s fourth wave of Covid-19 infections has been slowing down with life seemingly gradually returning to normal for the first time since 2020.
However, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas has reiterated MoH’s call for residents to practice personal responsibility and follow the current protocols, as there is still much uncertainty surrounding the shift from the novel coronavirus moving from a pandemic to an endemic.
“I’m very cautious about speaking on an endemic phase. I can say that we continue to monitor the trend. We are still seeing an increase, the Epi Curve is still showing a spike, we’re not on a downward side of that curve. For us to get to that downward side, persons have to of course get vaccinated, get boosted observe the protocols, wear the masks so we can break that chain of transmission,” Dr Sealey-Thomas told Observer during the recent commissioning of the Glanvilles polyclinic.
Meanwhile, the CMO has also advised parents to monitor children who may be presenting flu-like and common cold-related symptoms.
Resident doctor on Barbuda, Dr Jeremy Deazle, has attributed the rise in Covid-19 cases in children on the sister isle to the highly contagious Omicron variant which appears to be affecting more children than other variants.
The CMO said that out of an abundance of caution, it would be wise for parents to refrain from sending their children to school when they are feeling unwell in order to contain the spread of the virus in residents under the age of 12.
“We are seeing infections in children in Antigua and Barbuda; with our meetings with the healthcare persons in Barbuda, we recognise that. We continue to advise them to advise parents on what to do if your child is showing symptoms of the disease like a fever, cough, a runny nose, that they should not go to school and, of course, obey the protocols and get vaccinated if you can,” Dr Sealey-Thomas recommended.
Some primary schools across Antigua and Barbuda have issued notices similar to the advice given to parents by the CMO, stating that children who are presenting Covid-19 symptoms should remain at home and present written clearance from a medical practitioner before they return to the classroom.