Uganda detects first Omicron cases

In this file photo, a health worker conducts a Covid-19 test on a suspected virus carrier in Uganda. Health authorities in Uganda have confirmed detection of the Omicron variant. PHOTO/ALEX TAREMWA

What you need to know:

  • Several countries have banned or put strong restrictions on travellers from countries in southern Africa where the virus is said to be more widespread.

Uganda has detected at least seven cases of the new Omicron B.1.1.529 Covid-19 variant amongst travellers who entered Uganda in November.

"We know about it [cases of Omicron variant]. We will intensify surveillance," Dr Charles Olaro, the director of clinical services at the health ministry, told this publication on Tuesday.

Health authorities, Dr Olaro says, will increase vaccine uptake to combat the variant. 

A report from Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) indicates that from 13 samples collected November 29 from travellers at Entebbe International Airport, eleven were sequenced and seven turned out positive for the Omicron variant.

"The travellers arrived from Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Netherlands aboard Ethiopian Airways, Uganda Airlines, Kenya Airlines and Airlink," UVRI said in a statement December 6.

Omicron was first identified by scientists in South Africa and subsequently reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the November 24, 2021- raising global alarm.

The variant with several mutations has so far been reported in the United States of America, Europe, Israel and China among other countries.

Several countries have banned or put strong restrictions on travellers from countries in southern Africa where the virus is said to be more widespread.

Dr Jane Aceng, the health minister said last week that incoming travellers who test positive shall be traced and put under home-based care or health facility-based isolation depending on the severity of the disease. 

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