Seven cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant have been detected in the country. This is according to results released by the Uganda Virus Research Institute.
The results were from samples of travelers that were tested at Entebbe International Airport. This was confirmed by the genomic surveillance being carried out at the various points of entry and among the general population.
Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, the Executive Director of UVRI says the cases were detected among travelers from Nigeria and South Africa.
“The variant detected was from travelers from Nigeria and South Africa. We are still carrying out more testing,” Prof Kaleebu said.
The Omicron Variant is feared to be more virulent and infectious due to the 32 mutations in its spike protein. In countries like South Africa where the variant was first detected in November, the number of new COVID-19 infections has increased by 311 percent according to the World Health Organization. The variant is believed to be behind the increase in cases.
The confirmed cases have been isolated and are being closely monitored. They are not severely ill.
Despite the detected cases, Prof Kaleebu urges the public not to worry or panic.
“This variant spreads like any other COVID-19 variant we have seen. It has the same outcome as the delta and can be prevented the same way. People should not panic. They can prevent infection by wearing their masks, washing their hands frequently, and avoiding crowded places,” he said.
Last week, the Health Ministry announced that it would not stop travelers from South Africa from entering the country. Instead, the government opted to carry out genome sequencing on all COVID-19 positive tests to detect the type of virus behind the infection.
Travelers who test positive for the Omicron variant will undergo home-based care with follow-up from the health ministry if they do not show symptoms of the disease while those who present with symptoms or develop the severe disease will be admitted into government and private accredited facilities for management. URN