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Peru: New COVID-19 strain is not more aggressive, but gets transmitted more quickly

Photo: ANDINA/EsSalud

Photo: ANDINA/EsSalud

16:16 | Lima, Dec. 29.

The new variant of the COVID-19 is already in South America. Chile has just confirmed the first case of a passenger who had arrived from the United Kingdom and is being followed up on a daily basis.

"It would be a variant of greater contagiousness," said Chilean Undersecretary of Public Health Paula Daza on Tuesday.

The alarm went off in the neighboring country and authorities are trying to locate all the passengers who might have had any contact with the aforementioned person.

In Peru, the National Health Institute (INS) reported that so far the new variant has not been found in our country. Nonetheless, it continues conducting studies —especially in areas where the greatest transmission of COVID-19 is registered.

According to INS head Cesar Cabezas, developing the genome sequencing takes 10 days.

"Once we have the results, we will be sharing them with the national and international scientific community through the GISAID database," he said.

Likewise, Cabezas made it clear that —while the new variant is not more aggressive— it does spread faster. So far, it has not been shown that it could alter the response to the vaccines which are currently being developed.

Last week, INS officials met with Genomic Surveillance Network counterparts —also made up of members of university laboratories and research centers— to carry out a greater number of sequencing. To do this, they analyze the positive samples of patients —who came from Europe— in the areas where there is an increase in cases, such as in the north of the country.

In an interview with Andina news agency last week, the INS head warned that the people, who are most at risk due to the new strain, are citizens in vulnerable situation such as the elderly, diabetics, and those with obesity or chronic diseases.
 
Furthermore, Cabezas reiterated the importance of continuing to comply with the three main biosafety measures (hand washing, use of face mask, and physical distancing) established by health authorities to contain the spread of this virus.

Although he acknowledged that there is a relaxation and exhaustion on the part of the population, Cabezas called on people to resist and continue to comply with the sanitary provisions —especially at this time of year-end holidays.

(END) RRC/MVB

Published: 12/29/2020
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