Remain vigilant, beef up surveillance, as virus variants detected in Region – CARPHA

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The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is urging Member States to remain vigilant and continue to enhance their surveillance capacity to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

In a press release on 8 April 2021, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) institution made the call against the background of the detection of variants of the virus in the several Member States.

“To date CARPHA has detected cases of the UK variant in several Member States. While no cases of the Brazil or South Africa variant have been detected in the Region, U.S. variants of concern and a variant similar to the Brazil variant have been detected,” the CARPHA release said.

“CARPHA urges Member States to remain vigilant and continue to enhance their surveillance capacity to screen, identify, test, quarantine, isolate and trace contacts of new cases supported by public health prevention and control measures,” it added.

CARPHA said its Medical Microbiology Laboratory (CMML) continued to receive and test samples for suspected COVID-19 cases from its Member States (MS). The CMML also maintained its reporting protocol to designated national referral laboratories.

Since December 2020, the release said, CARPHA was working with the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine on genome sequencing for Member States. Countries were requested to send an allocation of ten samples per month which meet the requirements for sequencing.

“During this critical phase of the pandemic and beyond, CARPHA will provide technical support, advice and the highest quality service to help inform decision-makers in its Member States,” the press release said.

More information on CARPHA’s Response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.

About the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)

The Caribbean Public Health Agency is the new single regional public health agency for the Caribbean. It was legally established in July 2011 by an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed by Caribbean Community Member States and began operation in January 2013. The Agency rationalises public health arrangements in the Region by combining the functions of five Caribbean Regional Health Institutes (RHIs) into a single agency. They are:

  • 1. The Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI)
  • 2. The Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC)
  • 3. The Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI)
  • 4. The Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC)
  • 5. The Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL)

CARPHA brings these RHIs together as one strong force under a public health umbrella under which issues requiring a regional response can be addressed.

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