XBB found in local COVID tests but BA.5 dominates

| 17/01/2023 | 21 Comments

(CNS): As 2023 gets underway and three years after the COVID-19 virus arrived in the Cayman Islands, variants of the original strain are still infecting dozens of people here. According to the latest edition of the Public Health Department’s Spotlight report, the highly contagious XBB variant has been detected in local samples here but the BA.5 variant dominates the cases. Hospital admissions fell in December, according to official figures, but there was an increase at the end of the month. There were 16 COVID-related admissions in December compared to 17 in November. One patient died but none were admitted to the ICU or required ventilation.

Since the first confirmed case and death in Cayman in February 2020, 38 people have died as a result of complications relating to the virus and more than 31,500 cases have been officially reported.

According to the latest genomic sequencing results from over 300 COVID-19 samples from October and November, the Omicron variant continues to be the dominant strain, specifically BA.5. Although XBB was detected here at the end of October, it is not yet a common sub-variant. There are a number of other sub-variants within Omicron that are circulating. The most commonly detected sub-variants among these were CN.1, which accounted for 21% of the samples, BA.4.6 (17%) and BQ.1 (14%).

XBB.1.5 has not yet been detected in Cayman, but the variant has a growth advantage over other Omicron sub-variants, as it can rapidly replace them. The strain has been detected in 29 countries, including the United States.

Officials said there is no evidence to suggest the variants produce more severe illness or are more resistant to protection from vaccines. Public Health officials continue to strongly recommend that everyone in the Cayman Islands receives a dose of COVID-19 booster six months after their last shot.

Around the world, the virus is still infecting hundreds of thousands of people every week, with the biggest concern currently in China. The about-turn by the authorities there from a policy of zero COVID, managed through strict and persistent lockdowns, to the removal of all restrictions, despite the poor vaccine quality and coverage, has led to a massive surge in cases.

But with limited data relating to the circulating variants, there is now mounting international concern about the knock-on impact. Several countries have introduced pre-departure or post-arrival testing of passengers travelling from China, including the US, UK, France, Italy and Australia. To date, no travel requirements have been introduced for passengers from China arriving in the Cayman Islands.

See the December edition of Spotlight on the government website here.

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Category: Health, Medical Health

Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If the USA, UK and other countries have required the testing to fly from China we should be okay as anyone coming from China would need to most likely travel through one of those gateway countries.

  2. Anonymous says:


    not like thousands of visitors from current covid hot spots arent here weekly

  3. Anonymous says:

    if in risk group, get vaccinated, nothing more to be said.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Everyone should have had 3 or 4 vaccine jabs by now so this is nothing to worry about

    • Anonymous says:

      No matter how outrageous a lie may be, it will be accepted if stated loudly enough and often enough.

  5. Anonymous says:

    CIG should allow residents to anonymously self-report their case total to date, and last recovery date if they are interested in keeping realistic statistics. Many folks have had COVID four or more times since this began in late 2019.

    • Anonymous says:

      Report what? What kind of idiots are even testing now? It’s 2023 FFS. Move on.

      • Anonymous says:

        Pandemic not over simply because you wish it was

        • Anonymous says:

          Human beings should be more conscious about the well being of all other beings for their own well being.

          Otherwise, human being would be other being.

      • Anonymous says:

        There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death.

  6. Anonymous says:

    There shouldn’t be any politically-motivated travel bans. For statistical purposes, there should be a percentage of inbound travelers randomly selected and/or “referred for testing” at a station at airports, where positives get told to then go home, and their samples are sent to be sequenced. Anyone who is traveling while positive should be fined on discovery with a ticket.

  7. Anonymous says:

    XBB found in local samples is the headline, but then another paragraph where it hadn’t been found in Cayman yet. Make up your minds.

    CNS: The article states twice that XBB has been detected in samples here but says that XBB.1.5 has not. XBB.1.5 evolved from XBB but is a different sub-variant.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Just a matter of time with the cruise ship tourists coming by the thousands weekly


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