by Linda Straker
- Lineage B.1.1.7 commonly called the UK, British, or Kent variant
- Sample sent to CARPHA lab in Trinidad
- UK variant is up to 90% more transmissible
A Jamaican national who entered the country on 8 March 2021 and continues to be isolated, has been confirmed as the island’s first Covid-19 case to be diagnosed with the lineage B.1.1.7 commonly called the UK, British, or Kent variant.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Shawn Charles said that the person tested positive on the 5th day of arrival and there was a high viral load of the virus in the sample. The sample was then sent to the CARPHA lab in Trinidad, and on 26 March the Ministry of Health received confirmation of the variant.
“The person will continue to be in isolation until medically cleared,” said Charles who later disclosed that the Covid-19 patient is a male in his 20s. This is the first time that the variant was detected in the country.
Various international studies have established that the UK variant is up to 90% more transmissible and most of the people infected with this variant are asymptomatic.
“This is of concern to us because as you are aware these new variants are transmitted much more readily. They are much more infectious and many more persons can become infected which can, in the long run, lead to more deaths,” Charles told journalists during the weekly post-cabinet briefing on Tuesday, 30 March 2021.
Since the first Covid-19 cases were laboratory-confirmed in March 2020, the island has recorded 155 positive cases. Of that number, one person has died and presently only the Jamaican is in isolation with 386 in quarantine facilities.
The country began its vaccination programme on 12 February 2021, and as of 29 March, a total of 10,084 have received the vaccine. Health officials have said that the country will not return to normal until a higher percentage of the population is vaccinated. The target is between 60% to 80% of the population.