(Trinidad Guardian) The Omicron variant of concern has now been detected in circulation among the population.
The case in question was one of two people announced yesterday to as the newest discoveries of the variant on our shores.
According to the Ministry of Health, the person had no recent travel history or recent contact with a COVID-19 positive person. The person was detected by the St Augustine Medical Laboratory (STAML) on Saturday night.
“We now believe we have the first suspected cases of community spread which was confirmed early this morning,” STAML director Dr Shari Ramsaran told Guardian Media.
“This person was tested positive yesterday (Saturday). The genetic sequencing was performed by STAML and confirmed last night and the sample was sent off to the public health lab last night and the sample was reconfirmed this morning by UWI.”
STAML founder Dr Bal Ramsaran said the lab conducts sequencing using a PCR method which is confirmed by the team at the University of the West Indies.
“We’ve identified all the other variants. We’re doing this (a) long time now and we have cross-checked our results internationally and they are always to 100 per cent,” he said.
The STAML director was unwilling to divulge any further information on the case due to patient confidentiality. Guardian Media, however, understands the patient is a mildly symptomatic male.
Health officials have always maintained that it was inevitable that the variant would arrive on T&T’s shores and begin circulating among the population.
Dr Joanne Paul previously forecast that with its higher transmissibility, it will likely take hold and become the dominant strain in circulation.
The community case brings the number of Omicron cases to be detected locally up to five.
The fourth person (the other case announced yesterday), recently returned to Trinidad from the United States via Puerto Rico.
“As a result of their positive COVID-19 results both patients were isolated. The patients will remain in isolation until they meet the enhanced discharge criteria for persons with COVID-19 Variants of Concern. Additionally, contacts of the positive Omicron COVID-19 cases have been quarantined,” the Ministry of Health said in a news release.
“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), to date, 89 countries have confirmed cases of the Omicron Variant of Concern. Research has suggested that this variant is more easily spread from person to person as compared to previous variants but further information is needed on its impact on persons who contract this variant.”
The first person to be infected with the Omicron variant was detected on Monday, December 13.
The person was a vaccinated woman who returned to T&T from New York via Panama.
According to the Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, the person boarded the flight to New York with a positive PCR test and left Panama for T&T with a negative antigen test.
An investigation has since been launched and the woman is expected to be charged for breaching the travel pass.
On Saturday, the Minister of Health announced two additional imported cases of Omicron had been imported. This second case was from a flight diverted to Puerto Rico before coming to T&T where 16 passengers subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
The third case was from a flight that arrived on December 8 from Miami. The person later became symptomatic on December 10 and presented for testing.