(CMC) Jamaica recorded its first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic after a traveller who returned to the United Kingdom after a short stay in Jamaica tested positive, Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton said Wednesday.
“We have been advised through the UK’s international health regulations system that a traveller to Jamaica has returned a positive test result for COVID-19 and the genomic sequencing confirms Omicron as the variant for this result,” Tufton said during the “COVID Conversations”.
“This is a traveller who came here on a short stay in one of our resort facilities and went back and was confirmed for COVID and confirmed for the Omicron variant,” he added.
Tufton said that as a result, “there are several conclusions that can be drawn from this to include the fact that persons may have been infected by others within the population and/or this particular individual could have interacted sufficiently while here to infect or contaminate others.
“In other words, I think it is best from a planning, from a precautionary perspective to conclude that Omicron is here within our population,” he added.
Tufton appealed to Jamaicans not to panic but to heighten their adherence to prevention protocols, especially in light of the festive season, urging nationals to get vaccinated.
Much remains unknown about the omicron coronavirus variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it can thwart vaccines and whether it makes people as sick as the original strain.
Jamaica has recorded 2, 450 deaths and 92, 127 infections linked to the COVID-19 pandemic since March last year.