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Two New Variants of Concern (BA4 and BF5) Recorded in Saint Lucia

As of August 5, 2022, Saint Lucia diagnosed a total of 28,161 cases of COVID-19 in country, with 186 active cases presently. The daily infection rate for the last 7 days is 14.0 per 100,000 population per day, with a 25% average testing positivity rate and a transmission rate of 1.2. We have noted a total of 387 COVID-19 deaths. We have 10 positive COVID-19 cases admitted at the Respiratory Hospital, of which 1 is severely ill. This past week we continue to register cases daily, these are under reported as we note the reluctance of the public to get tested. The Caribbean Public Health Agency CARPHA has confirmed the presence of 2 other new variants of concern BA4 and BF5 in country.

On July 23, 2022, the Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of Monkey Pox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This declaration came with detailed recommendations for countries to prevent, reduce and limit Monkeypox transmission. On Friday August 5, 2022 Member States of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) held a Special Session to the Directing Council to address the progress of the outbreak and issues related to vaccine access.

The Ministry of Health has strengthened the public health system in relation to early detection, surveillance, treatment, isolation, contact tracing and testing for Monkeypox. Saint Lucia now has the capacity to test for Monkeypox in country at the Ezra Long Laboratory. PAHO, through the revolving fund, is facilitating a coordinated response in obtaining vaccines for the region. There is currently only one third generation vaccine for Monkeypox that is currently produced by just one manufacturer priced at about US$100 per dose. They are in short supply and not available widely. The vaccines are recommended for close contacts of positive cases and high-risk front-line workers.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs has received reports of cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) from some healthcare providers on island. Cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease are recorded yearly in Saint Lucia and early interventions usually limit transmission.

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