Health authorities in The Bahamas say the Delta variant is the predominant strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, as it continues to grapple with the impact of the virus that has killed 453 people and infected 19,139 others since March last year.
The Ministry of Health in a statement said that results received from the FIOCRUZ Laboratory in Brazil, confirmed the presence of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
It said that the National Reference Laboratory had submitted 98 SARS-CoV-2 virus-positive samples to the FIOCRUZ Laboratory for genomic sequencing. The samples were collected between May 6 to August 8 this year from individuals on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera, Exuma and Bimini. According to the ministry 41 of the cases were the Delta variant, while there were 39 cases of the Alpha variant.
“There are 18 samples still going through the testing process. The new sequencing results confirm that the Delta variant is the predominant variant in The Bahamas, followed by the Alpha and Gamma variants,” the ministry said in the statement, adding “it is noteworthy to mention that the Alpha variant is more transmissible than the original COVID-19 virus, and the Delta variant is known to be more transmissible than the Alpha variant.
“Consequently, all major health facilities in New Providence and Grand Bahama are experiencing increased numbers of cases, hospital admissions and deaths due to COVID-19.”
The Ministry of Health said that the health care system of both the public and private sectors is now severely challenged and over-burdened, and as a result, non-COVID-19 cases requiring health care are at risk of not being able to access life-saving health care.
“Given the predominance of these highly transmissible variants in the country, it is essential to seek medical care early and avoid home remedies that delay accessing medical care. Do not delay seeking medical help if you experience signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Contact your healthcare provider or nearest public health clinic for more information,” the ministry warned.
It urged members of the public to avoid gatherings of groups of more than five people, remain physically distant, wear a mask at all times, and wash hands regularly.
“Additionally, we strongly encourage all citizens and residents of The Bahamas to be vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccinations are proven to be safe. They are known to decrease the severity of illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, if infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and all its variants,” the ministry added.