Health Minister calls for Calm as experts struggle to determine severity of Omicron Variant

Posted: 2021-12-08T15:24:17Z
Health Minister calls for Calm as experts struggle to determine severity of Omicron Variant

Ugandans should remain calm despite reports of confirmed cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant which has been detected in 7 travelers that flew into the country from Nigeria and South Africa, the Ministry of Health has said.

The variant which was first detected in South Africa on November 9 has since been reported in over 38 other countries and caused travel bans by the US, UK and other countries against African nations.

According to initial data from the World Health Organisation preliminary studies, Omicron is three times more likely to re-infect people compared to other strains such as Beta or Delta. In South Africa, the variant has led to an increase of COVID-19 cases by 311 per cent, but no deaths linked to the variant have been recorded yet globally.

Also, the World Health Organisation says that it might take weeks to determine whether the virus causes severe illness.

Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the US President told CNN this week that though it’s too early to really make any definitive statements about Omicron, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it.

Uganda’s Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng also argues that while the variant seems to spread faster, it does not seem to cause severe disease like the Delta variant which was detected in June 2021. 
Delta accounts for more than half of Uganda's total cases and deaths that stand at 127,755 and 3,261 respectively.

Dr Aceng says that all the persons who have tested positive for the disease are being managed and none of them has severe forms of the disease. 

"We have isolated them but so far they are fine and have mild forms of the disease," Dr Aceng added.

She urged all Ugandans to get vaccinated since the evidence shows that the variant is being detected mostly among people who are not vaccinated against COVID. In addition to vaccination, scientists say people need to adhere to following the Standard Operating Procedures.