'No confirmation' of new Covid-19 strains in Jersey – after discovery of new variant in Brazil

THERE is no confirmation that any new strains of Covid-19 are present in Jersey, the deputy medical officer of health has said following the identification of a new variant of the virus in Brazil.

Dr Ivan Muscat
Dr Ivan Muscat

Dr Ivan Muscat said that virus mutations are to be expected and that testing samples from the Island are being analysed.

The UK government has implemented a travel ban on visitors from South America, as well as Portugal and Cape Verde, as a result of the discovery of the new mutation of the virus while British and Irish residents must isolate for a minimum period of ten days if travelling from those areas.

The discovery of the new variant comes after a more infectious strain, first discovered in the UK, was found.

Dr Muscat said: 'Virus mutations and therefore variants will always arise and the identification of new Covid mutations and variants is therefore neither extraordinary or unexpected.

'We are sending random virus samples from the community for sequencing. In addition, we are also sending samples from passengers arriving in Jersey depending on their travel history.

'So far, we have not yet received confirmation that any samples indicate the presence of any variant but our advice and guidance takes into account the very likely possibility that we could have the UK new variant.'

He added that the travel restrictions already in place – which requires arrivals flying via the UK to isolate for a minimum period of ten days – will 'protect Jersey significantly' from the Brazil variant and he added that government will consider 'extending the red arrival status appropriately'.

'Evidence so far suggests that the variant could be more transmissible,' he said. 'As always, work is ongoing to ensure testing and vaccines remain efficient in relation to new variants.

'To reiterate, Covid mutations are expected and adapting our response to these changes is anticipated. For example, we annually change our flu vaccine composition to keep up with evolving flu strains.'

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