Faced with the new strain of COVID-19 detected in the United Kingdom, Colombia’s Ministry of Health and Social Protection yesterday announced preventive measures in the country such as the restriction of flights to or from the UK. In addition, approximately 600 travelers that have entered Colombia since December 12, will be subject to tracking, isolation and monitoring through Colombia’s PRASS program: Testing, Tracking & Sustainable Selective Isolation for its initials in Spanish (Pruebas, Rastreo y Aislamiento Selectivo Sostenible).
“This is a precautionary measure to be able to carry out genomic analysis, which the National Institute of Health will be doing, on the genetics of the viruses in the event that some of these people are affected and to be able to establish whether the [mutated] virus is circulating in Colombia,” stated Minister of Health Dr. Fernando Ruiz Gómez.
He explained that virus mutations occur all the time and in the case of the novel Coronavirus that causes COVID-19, more than 1,200 mutant variations have already been discovered in the world, but the tendency of most of these mutations is to reduce the severity of the disease. “We in Colombia already have two different variants of the virus, which the National Institute of Health has identified. This would be a third variant that would enter the country or that is entering the world,” he added.
This specific variant that was identified in the United Kingdom appears to have, with these still preliminary reports, a higher transmissibility, but it does not have greater lethality or severity, the minister said.
The Ministry of Health, Aerocivil (Civil Aviation) and Migration Colombia have worked to identify more than two thousand Colombians and foreigners who arrived in Colombia in the last month, but only those who entered the country since December 12 are subject to these enhanced tracking measures.
“There are approximately 600-700, identified with their own name and location and from today they will be called and located to verify all their conditions and to conduct the analysis. They will call them from their EPS (health plan) or from the National Institute of Health,” said Ruiz Gomez.
The minister asked Colombians not to panic, since the virus will continue to mutate and more events of this nature will take place, necessitating the continuation of all the established biosecurity protocols.
Photo courtesy Minsalud