Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health on Thursday disclosed that the twin-island republic had recorded its first case of the UK variant of COVID-19.
It said the person who tested positive for the new COVID-19 Variant of Concern (Variant B117) is a returned national who travelled from the UK. The patient had provided a negative PCR test which was taken 72 hours prior to departure, in keeping with Trinidad and Tobago’s quarantine protocols.
“Upon arrival in Trinidad and Tobago, the national was immediately placed in state quarantine, in a single room. The patient was transferred directly to an isolation area at the Couva Hospital and Multi-training Facility once the positive COVID-19 result was confirmed,” the statement said.
“The presence of the variant was confirmed via a gene sequencing study at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, which has been testing COVID-19 positive samples collected since September 2020.”
The Ministry said the protocol requiring retuning nationals from the UK to be in state quarantine for 14 days – double the time that previously obtained – will continue to be implemented and returning nationals from all other high-risk countries will be subject to seven days of state quarantine and seven days home quarantine.
“Members of the public are asked to note that research has suggested that this strain of COVID-19 is more easily spread from person to person than previous strains (estimated to be 50 percent more transmissible). Thus, it becomes even more important for members of the public to follow all of the recommended personal health-protective measures,” the Ministry added.
Those measures include frequent hand washing and/or sanitizing, wearing of masks in public, social distancing and staying home when ill.
Trinidad and Tobago is the second CARICOM country, behind Jamaica, which has detected the new strain of COVID-19.