Gov’t Heightens Surveillance Over New Covid Variant

Gov’t Heightens Surveillance Over New Covid Variant

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By Spy Uganda

Kampala: The Government has intensified surveillance measures on most of the points of entry to curb the spread of Omicron, a new COVID-19 variant, the Minister of Health has said.

The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, yesterday told journalists that whereas the Omicron variant has not yet been detected in Uganda, the government is not taking chances and has intensified its measures especially at the points of entry like Entebbe International Airport and high-volume land border points like Malaba, Busia, Mutukula, Elegu, Mpondwe and Katuna.

“While the Omicron variant has been reported in several countries across the world, it is important to note that this variant has not been detected in Uganda. However, the government has intensified surveillance at points of entry; with particular emphasis at the high-volume entry points,” Minister Aceng said.

This latest COVID-19 variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa last week and is said to have spread significantly to reach all provinces of South Africa. The new variant has reportedly spread to at least 23 other countries including Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, UK, Germany and Italy among others.

There is fear that this new variant may be more devastating than the dreaded Delta and Alpha variant.

About two months ago, the Government instituted mandatory testing of incoming travellers upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport to curb the importation of the virus. According to Aceng, this measure will continue to restrain the new variant.

“We shall continue testing all incoming passengers. However, passengers will be allowed to proceed to their destination once their sample has been removed,” she said.

On average, six positive cases are recorded daily from the mandatory testing of incoming travellers and Aceng is confident that the numbers are still low for the Ministry to handle.

The Minister assured Ugandans that all positive samples from travellers shall undergo genomic sequencing to enable detection of the Omicron and other variants. She also encouraged the public to embrace the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and continue adhering to the standard operating procedures.

According to the Health Minister, the Government has to date received a total of 17,131,090 doses through donations and direct procurement by the Government of Uganda; of which 10,523,853 doses have been distributed countrywide.

The distribution of the remaining 6,607,237 doses is ongoing. The government will receive an additional 15,563,650 doses by the end of December 2021.

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