DOMINANT: Variant COVID strains have “rapidly” become most common among new infections

DOMINANT: Variant COVID strains have “rapidly” become most common among new infections
Health Minister Renward Wells. (FILE PHOTO)

80 percent of samples screened last week contained variant COVID strains

“There was not evidence of the variants in the samples up until November 2020”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The percentage of COVID variants among a sampling of positive cases quadrupled between March and April — further evidence of more than one strain of the virus impacting the spread of the infections in recent weeks.

In an address to Parliament yesterday, Minister of Health Renward Wells said around 20 percent of the positive samples screened contained the variant mutation of the virus between March 13 and 19.

Just over three weeks later — between April 11 and April 17 — an “alarming” 80 percent of samples screened contained the variant mutation.

“This trend in the data indicates that one or more of the variants of concern entered The Bahamas likely sometime in early March,” Wells advised Parliament, consistent with the assessment of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee.

“Further, the variants have rapidly come to dominate our COVID-19 infections in the country.

“We already know from our previous data sequencing from the [National] Reference Laboratory in Brazil, there was not evidence of the variants in the samples up until November 2020.

“However, we await the sequencing results of the samples sent to CARPHA in mid-March.

“These results will assist to confirm our proxy results from the PCR screen and give us more detailed information on which strains are present in The Bahamas.”

Wells continued: “The testing materials for the in-country variant screening were provided by PAHO (the Pan American Health Organization) and received at the National Reference Laboratory a little over a week ago.

“We commend the forward-thinking of the laboratory director, Dr Indira Martin.”

An additional 69 cases were recorded on Tuesday, up from the nine recorded on Monday.

In the last two weeks, there have been increasing daily infections.

There have been a total of 9,868 cases recorded, of which 464 were active.

A total of 51 cases remain hospitalized.

Meanwhile, recoveries stand at 9,140 — a 92.6 percent recovery rate.

Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).

According to the minister, nine hospitalized cases on Grand Bahama remain moderately ill, while 15 cases in Doctor’s Hospital were moderately ill and 18 cases at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) were moderately ill.

Three cases were in the Intensive Care Unit at Doctor’s Hospital.

In a statement yesterday, the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) said PMH will be discharging patients who meet the criteria and temporarily suspending in-person clinics and dental services.

The PHA noted the hospital’s dialysis unit remains uninterrupted and will continue to operate by appointment only, but the hospital has reverted to the telehealth platform for outpatient clinics and its Lab Services are now closed.