The Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo has disclosed that the country has detected three SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant isolates among samples from individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last one week.
Ms. Masebo said the cases were detected through the genomic sequencing laboratory at the University of Zambia, School of Veterinary Medicine yesterday.
Contained in a statement issued to ZANIS, Ms. Masebo revealed that the three detected cases include two males who are fully vaccinated and have a history of international travel, and an out-patient female of COVID-19 but not yet vaccinated.
The Minister added that two cases were displaying mild flu like symptoms while one case is asymptomatic but that all are in isolation.
She noted that information on the symptoms of the new variant are still unclear but that there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron as compared to other variants of concern.
Ms. Masebo said severity of the disease following infection with the Omicron variant is yet to be understood.
“There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those associated with other variants,” Ms. Masebo indicated.
The Minister assured that the current COVID-19 vaccines remain effective against the pandemic.
Ms. Masebo said studies are underway to understand the potential impact of the Omicron variant on existing counter measures.
She urged members of the public to continue adhering to the Public Health and Social Measures as well as get vaccinated in an effort to manage the further spread.
Omicron is a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 that the World Health Organisation (WHO) designated as a ‘variant of concern’ on 26 November 2021. This means it has potential for increase in transmissibility, more severe disease with possible increased hospitalizations or deaths, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failure.