The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) issued a press release on Tuesday advising the public that the COVID-19 Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are now in Jamaica.
In the release, it declared that gene-sequencing of eighty-seven samples was performed at the University of the West Indies to determine the Omnicron variant. The results concluded that of the samples, eight (9%) were BA.5 and five (6%) were BA.4.
A precautionary message was also shared by Dr. Karen Webster Kerr who stated that, “the Omnicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is the dominant variant globally and are highly transmissible. As a result, there may be an increase in COVID-19 cases.”
Furthermore, according to the latest data as of July 2 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the subvariant BA.5 was responsible for nearly 54% of COVID cases in the U.S. and BA.4, a similar subvariant, accounted for nearly 17% more.
Additional research indicates that the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are more resistant to the current COVID-19 vaccines.
The MoHW is advising the public to practice effective infection prevention and control measures. It also urges the public to get vaccinated to protect themselves against severe illness, as well as to get booster shots for those eligible.