Covid-19: Uganda confirms nine cases of Omicron

HEALTH & SCIENCE |

Healthcare workers assist patients being treated at a makeshift hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 10, 2021. [Reuters]

Uganda has confirmed nine cases of Omicron Covid-19 variant, becoming the first East African country to register the strain.

At the same time, Senegal recorded its first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in a tourist who attended a demonstration in the capital Dakar last month with about 300 people of varying nationalities, testing lab IRESSEF said on Sunday.

The 58-year-old man was visiting from another West African country and tested positive when leaving Senegal on Friday. He is under quarantine and has no symptoms, the lab said in a statement.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is deploying a surge team to South Africa's Gauteng province, epicentre of the outbreak of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, to help with surveillance and contact tracing, it said.

The WHO's Regional Emergency Director for Africa, Salam Gueye, also said it was providing technical assistance to boost the production and distribution of medical oxygen in Botswana, where Omicron has also been detected.

South Africa is preparing its hospitals for more admissions, as the Omicron coronavirus variant pushes the country into a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

Omicron was first detected in southern Africa last month and has triggered global alarm as governments fear another surge in infections.

South Africa's daily infections surged last week to more than 16,000 on Friday from roughly 2,300 on Monday.

Ramaphosa said in a weekly newsletter that Omicron appeared to be dominating new cases in most of the country's nine provinces and urged more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"South Africa now has sufficient supplies of vaccines, ... vaccination is essential for our economic recovery because as more people are vaccinated more areas of economic activity will be opened up," he said.

The government would soon convene the National Coronavirus Command Council to review the state of the pandemic and decide whether further measures are needed to keep people safe, Ramaphosa said.

Scientists in South Africa and other countries are racing to establish whether Omicron is more contagious, causes more severe disease and is more resistant to existing vaccines.

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