Uganda detects first Covid-19 Omicron variant cases

Entebbe International Airport

Travellers arriving at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. The country has reported the first seven cases of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant from travellers who arrived at the airport on November 29, 2021.

Photo credit: Sumy Sadurni | AFP

Uganda has detected at least seven cases of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant amongst travellers who entered the country late November.

"We know about it [cases of Omicron variant]. We will intensify surveillance," Dr Charles Olaro, the director of clinical services at the Health ministry told the Monitor on Tuesday.

Health authorities, Dr Olaro said, will increase Covid-19 vaccine uptake to combat the variant.

A report from Uganda Virus Research Institute (Uvri) indicates that from 13 samples collected on November 29 from travellers at Entebbe International Airport, 11 were sequenced and seven turned out positive for the Omicron variant.

"The travellers arrived from Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Netherlands aboard Ethiopian Airways, Uganda Airlines, Kenya Airlines and Airlink," Uvri said in a statement on December 6.

Omicron was first identified by scientists in South Africa and subsequently reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the November 24, 2021- raising global alarm.

Several mutations

The variant, with several mutations, has so far been reported in the US, Europe, Israel and China among other countries.

Several countries have banned or put strong restrictions on travellers from countries in southern Africa where the new variant is said to be more widespread.

Ugandan Health Minister Jane Aceng said last week that incoming travellers who test positive will be traced and put under home-based care or hospital isolation depending on the severity of their cases.