Uganda detects 7 cases of Omicron

Tuesday December 07 2021
Covid-19 test.

A Covid-19 test. Uganda confirms seven cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Uganda has confirmed the first seven cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng announced on Tuesday afternoon.

Dr Aceng said the variant was detected in two travellers from South Africa and five from Nigeria, who arrived in Uganda more than a week ago, raising fears that the virus could have already spread to more people in the country.

She, however, assured Ugandans that the travellers have been isolated, adding that they were not severely ill but needed monitoring.

The minister had last week said they would carry out genomic sequencing on all samples.

She said on Tuesday the variant could have spread all over the globe before it was detected, given that over 38 countries have reported cases of the virus.

She added that the virus spread quickly, but does not seem to cause severe disease.


“Even from South Africa, the infection does not seem to be severe. It is mild and not so much among the vaccinated people,” Dr Aceng said.

She stressed the importance of vaccination and called for calm among Ugandans, urging them to get vaccinated, especially those living at the borders and who often interact with travellers from other countries.

The Omicron variant has been designated as a variant of concern by the WHO and presents with some deletions and more than 30 mutations in the spike region.

Health officials said the first test done at Entebbe International Airport on arrival confirmed that the travellers had Covid-19, and further testing detected the Omicron variant. The new variant has caused panic across the globe, adding to the pressure already created by other variants including the delta variant.

According to officials, the tests to confirm the variant take between five to eight days.

“As the number of Omicron cases increases globally, there is a need for near real-time genomic surveillance to keep track of emerging and circulating variants for the effective control of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic,” reads the document from Medical Research Council.

Uganda has recorded over 127,000 cases of Covid-19, including 3,256 deaths.