by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The Ministry of Health said the first cases of the COVID-19 Omicron Variant have been confirmed in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Three COVID-19 test samples were sent off for genomic sequencing to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and confirmed the existence of the variant.
“Two of the three samples returned positive for the omicron variant of concern.,” said the Chief Medical Officer Dr Hazel Laws during a special COVID-19 press briefing on December 30.
“When we look at the data pertaining to these two samples, the two cases, we have objective evidence that the Omicron variant is in circulation in the federation currently.”
The CMO also officially announced the start of the fourth wave of COVID-19 transmission in the Federation with Lambda and Omicron being the two variants in circulation.
In two weeks, St. Kitts and Nevis moved from 15 to 106 active cases.
According to health officials, Omicron is more transmissible than other variants but less severe than Delta which had a high mortality rate when it became the dominant strain globally.
Dr Laws urged those eligible to get the booster shot and emphasised the need for continued adherence to the non-pharmaceutical means of preventing spread.
In the United States, the primary tourism source market for St. Kitts and Nevis, Omicron, officially became the dominant strain in circulation as of Thursday (December 30).
As 2021 comes to a close and Omicron threatens many countries Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) reflects on the second year of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In 2020 there were 1.8 million deaths worldwide related to COVID-19, those numbers increased to 3.5 million recorded deaths for 2021, and the WHO’s officials believe the actual number is higher.
Dr Ghebreyesus, in a featured video from the WHO, believes that 2022, the third year, will be the last year of the Pandemic.
When the Director-General references 2022 as the last year of the pandemic, he means ending the acute phase of the pandemic where healthcare systems are overwhelmed, and people are dying from the virus.
Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, says the goal is for COVID-19 to reach a level of low transmission as he expects the virus to remain in circulation going forward.
On Thursday (December 30), it was announced that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory to people in the US to avoid cruise travel regardless of vaccination status due to the 92 cruises that had outbreaks of the virus on board.