Guyana monitoring XBB 1.5 subvariant as Covid cases rise

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
A woman being tested for Covid-19 at one of the Ministry of Health’s testing sites (Filed photo)

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has noted that authorities are keeping a close watch on the XBB 1.5 subvariant of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) – which has been sweeping across several countries.

The Omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5, is causing concern among scientists after its rapid spread in the United States in December.

XBB and XBB.1.5 were estimated to account for 44.1% of COVID-19 cases in the United States in the week of Dec. 31, up from 25.9% in the previous week, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has also been detected in 28 other countries worldwide, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

XBB.1.5 is yet another descendant of Omicron, the most contagious variant of the virus causing COVID-19 that is now globally dominant. It is an offshoot of XBB, first detected in October, which is itself a recombinant of two other Omicron sub-variants.

“Right now, I think most people are concerned about XBB 1.5 and as of last week, the WHO had said that that variant is in 29 countries, so it’s something we are monitoring because the presentation tends to be a little bit different and in combination with RSV and influenza, we’re seeing a lot more hospitalisation in some countries and in a few cases, you’re getting more deaths,” Dr Anthony expressed.

In Guyana, 349 COVID-19 cases are under surveillance but this is still considered an underestimate of the actual case count.

However, only 13 are hospitalised. Eight persons are at the Infectious Diseases Hospital with three in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Persons have been asked to take a COVID-19 test, should they develop flu-like symptoms.

“Not a lot of people have been utilising the institutions that we have to isolate, but we have been advising people to stay home…once they test positive, but they have to report it so we can monitor it…there might be people who stay home without being positive, so it has to be positively documented. In that way, you would get the sick leave…to cover you if you are working.”

Vaccination for both primary and booster doses remain available at the various sites countrywide.