Respiratory illnesses spike amid new COVID strain

| 27/12/2023 | 14 Comments

(CNS): The Ministry of Health and Wellness expects that respiratory illnesses will continue to increase over the course of the holiday season and in January due to travel, the influx of arrivals, and an increase in the number and size of gatherings. The World Health Organization has also classified the JN.1 strain of COVID-19 as a variant of interest. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Gent said the ministry would “continue to monitor the developments relating to COVID-19 and all respiratory illnesses that are common for this time of year. However, we note that when it comes to JN.1, there is nothing to be particularly worried about at this stage, and our aim is to inform the public and remind them to continue to adhere to the best practices that we learned during the height of the pandemic.”

Along with being monitored due to its parent lineage of BA.2.86 (another COVID-19 variant of interest), JN.1 is being given special attention due to the increasing transmission compared to other strains.

“JN.1 has an additional mutation in the spike protein compared to BA.2.86. It has been identified in 41 countries so far and is becoming one of the most commonly detected variants in the United States,” National Epidemiologist Rachel Corbett said. “There is no evidence that this strain results in more severe disease. Current vaccines are expected to be effective against JN.1, and the public health risk is considered low.”

However, the HSA has still not secured any COVID-19 vaccines, and officials said they would let the public know when they become available. There has been no explanation from health officials as to why Cayman remains without vaccines. However, seasonal flu shots are available at district health centres weekdays from 2pm-4pm.

Anyone suffering from a respiratory infection, whether caused by COVID-19, influenza or the common cold, is advised to remain at home if symptomatic and wait until they are free of symptoms for 24 hours before returning.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Department is also monitoring the increased number of dengue fever cases locally. The Mosquito Research and Control Unit is spraying areas where the illness has been detected. The public is encouraged to take personal responsibility in helping to mitigate the impact by preventing and protecting against further spread of the mosquito-borne disease.

“It is important that we ensure our surroundings are clean and free of mosquito breeding sites,” said Health Promotion Officer Therese Prehay. “Everyone should take it upon themselves to empty, dispose of, or cover any receptacles or containers capable of storing even small amounts of water. This includes used tyres, water storage drums, flowerpots and tanks, as these are ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes.”

In the coming weeks, the PHD will be working with communities to prevent mosquito breeding sites in and around homes.

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Category: Health, Medical Health

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Getting covid repeatedly is not optimal for one’s health. It is and has never been “just a cold or flu”.

    Respect each other by masking or staying home. It’s a small country.

  2. 345tingz says:

    Got COVID this week. It is going round. I have had no vax at all and had covid one time 2 years ago . This time is 20 percent of that. Please don’t everyone start the panic train. It is just the election variant going around right now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Told you this weeks ago.

  4. Elvis says:

    I got Covid in August on my travels. Ruined my vacation. Wasn’t the same for a long time and I’m very fit and healthy with a good diet too. Something more than flues go around now just be very mindful people and careful with your personal health and personal views too please?

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you feel sick stay home. If you need to go out and feel sick, wear a N95 mask. Covid or not. If you see people walking around with masks on, maybe that’s why and best to avoid them.

    • Anonymous says:

      If they would wear a mask it wouldn’t be so bad but they are running around exposing everyone to the Covid. I wear a mask so I don’t get Covid from them.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I got Covid on Monday and tested positive. It’s basically the same as getting a cold. I had my third vaccine shot more than 15 months ago so maybe that helped but I just think Covid has lost the punch it had in 2020. I’m already feeling better and it’s only been 2 days.

    • Anonymous says:

      Keeping fingers crossed you don’t get long covid. The initial infection might seem like a mild cold, but the resulting organ damage can last a life time.

    • Anonymous says:

      I had it for the first time recently. Honestly wasn’t that bad. The flu I had in summer was way worse. Honestly don’t know what the panic is about. 2 years of our lives wasted over this nonsense.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Still no vaccines….I’ve been emailing every 10 days since September. For those of us medically vulnerable to this infection not being able to get a booster is very concerning. Now I’m hearing about covid everywhere, lots of people I know very sick over Christmas.
    This needs an explanation.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cabinet spent the allotted funds on a Christmas lunch or legal aid for a politician with a drink problem and wandering hands??

      Vaccines cost government money – funerals dont??

  8. Anonymous says:

    Does Nick Gent have any public concern about licensed Cayman Islands medical practitioners and pharmacists still prescribing Ivermectin to treat patient COVID, or pre-COVID? Scary.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Anyone not testing-out negative on a Covid test kit is going to be spreading their disease. It is rampant. If your nose is running, take a test. Be considerate of others and remove yourself. It is weird that this needs any explanation.


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