Health Ministry to send patient samples to Trinidad-based laboratory to test for new COVID-19 variants.

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Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony

The samples of three people who died this week as a result of COVID-19 will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to confirm whether or not a new variant is circulating in Guyana.

Arrangements have been made for the samples to be shipped to CARPHA’s laboratory located in Trinidad and Tobago, where they will undergo Genetic Sequencing, a procedure that identifies new COVID-19 variants. Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony made this disclosure on Thursday during his COVID-19 update.

“We want to understand which variant is circulating here and whether it is the same type of variant that is causing deaths among our patients,” he said.

At present, there is no local laboratory that can conduct the requisite assessment needed to conclusively identify the variants, the minister revealed. Earlier this year, Dr. Anthony announced that the National Reference Laboratory was building capacity to conduct gene sequencing. Nonetheless, without the requisite confirmation, health authorities have concluded that a new COVID-19 wave is looming in Guyana. Ten people who have tested possible for the disease are currently hospitalized, while four are being monitored in the Intensive Care Unit of the Ocean View facility.

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