by Kadeem Joseph
Residents were yesterday stung by the country’s latest and record-breaking dashboard that revealed the highest single day new case count of Covid-19 since health officials in Antigua and Barbuda started to monitor the spread of the virus.
The latest dashboard from the Ministry of Health, showing statistics as of September 3, revealed a whopping 111 new cases of the virus. This dwarfed the 62 new cases that were observed in the release for August 29, previously the highest number of new active cases presented in a single dashboard.
The ministry explained that 13 of the latest cases were garnered from 123 samples processed by the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre (SLBMC), while 98 positive results were discovered among 209 samples processed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad.
These results mean that Antigua and Barbuda now has 457 active cases, also the highest number of active cases at one time according to records published by the health ministry to date.
This new report surpasses the February 28 dashboard that reflected 448 active cases, when the country grappled with the post-Christmas and new year celebrations’ viral spike.
In a recent interview, the head of the SLBMC laboratory, Dr Lester Simon, warned that the dreaded delta variant of Covid-19 and its sub lineages had become the dominant form of the virus in the country.
The delta strain, first identified in India, has been a cause of concern for medical professionals and the scientific community since it has not only been found to be more transmissible but also more dangerous.
“The main danger with the delta variant is that it is much stickier, meaning that it is much, much more likely to latch on to a person and infect them,” Deputy Chair of the National Working Group on Covid-19 Vaccines, Dr Courtney Lewis, explained during an interview with Observer.
He said that this variant transmits at a very high rate, similar to that of the chickenpox virus, while the earlier forms of the virus, such as the alpha variant, transmit as easily as the common cold.
“So, they are still very transmissible but not as transmissible as the delta is,” he added.
A study from China reported that people infected with the delta variant can also carry 1,000 times the viral load as those infected with the original virus.
Preliminary studies also show that this variant is more likely to cause severe disease in not only adults but young people and children who contract the virus.
The variant has been a worry for many countries in the region and around the world, whose health officials have blamed it on recent spikes in cases leading to increased hospitalisations, oxygen shortages and an increase in deaths.
Health officials continue to encourage residents to abide by Covid-19 safety protocols including proper mask wearing, hand washing and sanitisation, and physical distancing.
Vaccinations continue to be touted as an effective tool in the fight against Covid-19, as health systems the world over struggle to cope.