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Local scientists identified the strains that were originated in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7) and Brazil (P.1).
Dominican Republic's Institute for Tropical Medicine and Global Health (IMTSAG) reported that SARS-CoV-2 new variants recorded in the United Kingdom and Brazil have been in the country since November last year.
A survey revealed that 22 out of 125 COVID-19-positive samples confirmed the British (B.1.1.7) and the Brazil strains (P.1). Although scientists checked out for the variant circulating in Africa (B.1.351), none of the tests was positive.
IMTSAG Director Paulino Ramirez indicated that the new strains could be the cause for the high COVID-19 death toll and contagions experienced from December until mid-January of this year.
Ramirez also ruled out that the new variants are present in Haiti; however, there are plans to start studies in the border area and Haitians living in the country. Moreover, investigations are on their way to determine if there are locally-originated strains.
Only 5 destinations worldwide (2%) have lifted all COVID-19 related travel restrictions: Albania Costa Rica Dominican Republic North Macedonia Tanzania
The positive cases for the British variant had no history of traveling abroad in that period and were identified in the National District and Santo Domingo province. There are also concerns about the New York variant because a large number of Dominicans traveled to the Caribbean island for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Speaking on the current risks imposed by the new strains, Ramirez called for stricter measures to restrict movement and non-essential activities and to increase hospitals' capacity.
"This tells us that the introduction of the British strain was most likely related to the activation of the tourism sector, or visitors coming from Europe who escaped the epidemiological surveillance systems implemented in the country and had the virus," Ramirez said.