Uganda confirms 7 cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant at Entebbe Airport

Uganda govt cuts COVID-19 testing cost, takes over service at airport
A lab technician uses a single channel pipette dropper to test material during COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test processing at a laboratory in the Dunkeld suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Entebbe, Uganda | URN | Seven cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant have been detected in Uganda. This is according to results released by the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI).

The results were from samples of travelers that were tested at Entebbe International Airport.

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.

Five of the Omicron COVID-19 variant cases arrived from Nigeria while two arrived from South Africa; all confirmed by the genomic surveilance that have been carrying out at the various points of entry and among the general population.

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 per cent according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The variant is believed to be behind the increase in cases.

Despite the detected cases, Prof Kaleebu urges the public not to worry or panic.

Read Also: WHO warns countries against border closures as Omicron variant spreads

“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.