Martinique authorities suspect case of COVID-19 variant

Health authorities are investigating a case in which a returned national may have contracted a variant of COVID-19 overseas.
The case was reported to the Regional Health Agency (ARS) by the Fort-de-France CHU laboratory.
The ARS said in a statement on Thursday that the suspected patient, who travelled during the holiday season, presented with COVID-19 signs on his return to the French-speaking island.
“The RT-PCR test he was subjected to was positive…the human test showed a mutation of the S protein of the virus. Sequencing is underway at the National Reference Center for Viruses and Respiratory Infections in Lyon, for confirmation,” it added. The ARS said it had carried out contact tracing and eight contacts were placed in isolation.
“None of the contacts has so far presented any sign suggestive of COVID-19 and the first tests carried out are negative,” it added.
The development in Martinique was disclosed on the same day that the Ministry of Health in Trinidad and Tobago confirmed that a national who returned to the island from the United Kingdom had tested positive for the UK COVID-19 Variant of Concern (Variant B117). It was the first confirmed COVID-19 variant case in the twin-island republic.
According to research, the UK strain is more easily spread from person-to- person than previous strains. It is estimated to be 50 per cent more transmissible. (CMC)