Dr. Christopher Tufton
With the Mu variant of COVID-19 now present in the Caribbean, Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton says his ministry will send samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to ascertain if the new strain of the virus has reached Jamaica.
Five cases of the Mu variant have been detected in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dr. Tufton says it is likely that the strain will reach Jamaica.
"Now that we know that there is the Mu variant in the Caribbean and it is one of concern, then we will pay particular attention to ensuring that we not only test for Delta and the others, we test for this particular one.... So what we have to continue to do is to monitor and then we pronounce once we find evidence of it," he said on Wednesday while on tour of communities in Montego Bay to promote COVID-19 vaccination.
Dr. Tufton added that Jamaica is closer to acquiring a genome sequencer which is used to detect variants of different viruses. However, he could not give a specific date when the machine will arrive in the country.
The Mu variant of the coronavirus has been named a variant of interest by the World Health Organization.
It has been recorded in 49 US states, with Florida and California reporting the highest numbers of infections.
Scientists have warned that this new variant of COVID-19 could be more transmissible than the Delta variant, and be vaccine resistant.