Ministry health

Ministry of Health confirms Omicron BA.2 variant in Barbados

Health Minister Ian Gooding-Edghill has confirmed the presence of the omicron subvariant, BA.2, in Barbados.

Last week, following a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Minister of Health and Welfare revealed that samples would be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for investigation.

xIn a statement to the media this evening, Gooding-Edghill revealed that 90% of samples sent to CARPHA tested positive for the BA.2 subvariant.

“Based on the results of samples sent to the CARPHA laboratory in Trinidad for analysis, I now confirm that the BA.2 subvariant of COVID exists in Barbados. In fact, 90% of the samples sent to CARPHA tested positive. for this variant of omicron which is very contagious but does not usually cause serious illness,” said the Minister of Health.

From March 28, the island’s positivity rate increased. Since then, the island has recorded 5,104 new infections. Today marked a record 28% as health officials reported 428 new positives out of 1,357 samples tested on April 13.

Gooding-Edghill reminded Barbadians that the BA.2 subvariant would be 50-80% more transmissible than BA.1 and urged citizens to continue to enforce mask-wearing, physical distancing, good hygienic practices and good ventilation.

He further urged unvaccinated people to get vaccinated and urged those who received two doses of the two-dose vaccine to get the booster shot.

“There is overwhelming evidence internationally that vaccination and stimulation remain crucial to minimize the risk of serious illness and possible death.”

Acknowledging that the Easter weekend is upon us, the health minister said there will be no tightening of protocols. However, he urged the public to exercise restraint and respect health safety measures.

“As we head into our long Easter weekend, I would again signal that tightening of any of the protocols is not contemplated, but at the same time.

I am sure Barbadians as a whole will practice restraint, discipline and moderation in their social activities and interactions over the coming days. The reality is that we have to get used to dealing with COVID with the same level-headedness and common sense that we exercise with the challenges and areas of our daily national lives,” Gooding-Edghill said.