Tobago has recorded its first confirmed case of the Brazilian covid19 variant, also known as the gamma or P1 variant.
The Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development made the announcement on Tuesday, noting this variant is more contagious than the original virus.
It said the division and Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) are ramping up testing and will continue to provide updates if any new variants are detected in Tobago.
“Additionally, systems are being prepared to deal with the delta variant, which is now the dominant strain globally," the division said.
"The delta variant is responsible for all major spread and most unvaccinated deaths in the United Kingdom, United States and other countries. We now have 4.16 million covid19 deaths globally and more than 194 million cases.”
The division urged the public to continue to follow the health protocols, and get vaccinated.
"Personal responsibility and vaccination is paramount.”
County Medical Officer of Health Dr Tiffany Hoyte said the Brazil variant is contributing to an increase in cases on the island.
As of Tuesday, there were a record 357 active cases on the island. The division reported 52 cases on Thursday – the largest daily tally.
“The gamma variant circulating in our community is contributing to the rise in cases," Hoyte said.
"The presence of this variant means that the fight to save lives and to reduce the spread of the virus will become more difficult. Since it is more contagious than the original virus, we expect more cases, and with more cases comes more deaths.”
She said the aim is to save lives and prevent people from being hospitalised, noting that the key to achieving this is to get most of the population vaccinated.
“Getting vaccinated reduces your personal risk of infection and protects against getting severe illnesses and death. When combined with masks, social distancing and hand washing, it is the best protection we have, and it works.”
She said the home isolation and monitoring programme is working but added that there remains a certain level of personal responsibility with covid19-positive people and their households, as well as the general public.
“When we do the right thing and get vaccinated, we can help bring the numbers down and reduce the possibilities of further mutations.”