Nam records close to 700 Covid cases in 5 days

… as 18 cases are Omicron variant

• By Tracy Tafirenyika

NAMIBIA recently recorded 695 new Covid-19 cases in a period of only five days; data from the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

Among the cases recorded 18 cases are that of the Omicron Covid-19 variant which were identified between November 11 and 26.

This information was announced this week during the 37th Covid-19 public briefing by President Hage Geingob and health minister, Dr Kalumbi Shangula. 

“Omicron is a new variant, more is yet to be known about it, its behaviour and the effect that it will have on the pandemic trajectory. The information available indicates that current vaccines are still effective in reducing severe illness, hospitalisation and death due to Covid-19. We also know that disease severity, hospitalisation and deaths have been mainly reported among the unvaccinated persons.

“The threat posed by the Omicron variant circulating in our country is real. This variant was detected predominantly in Khomas region and may be responsible for the increase in the new cases. From the 1 to 5 December 2021, we have recorded 695 new infections. Out of these 536 or 77.12 percent are from Khomas alone. I urge you all to remain calm, but vigilant to this invisible enemy.

“Therefore, I urge all eligible Namibians to go out in big numbers and get vaccinated. We need to achieve herd immunity to reduce the risk of circulating Variants of Concerns, reduce the cases of severe illness, hospitalisation and deaths due to Covid-19. The festive season is approaching, more and more people are travelling to be with their loved ones.

“Again, I want to reiterate that the virus does not move, people move with it. We must make smart decisions to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” stated Shangula.

Shangula went on to say that: “Following the reports and identification of the Omicron variant, Namibia started to conduct genomic sequencing of samples that tested positive for SARS-COV-2. A total of 19 samples which tested positive for Covid-19 through RTC/PCR between 11 and 26 November 2021, were selected for next generation sequencing (NGS) after passing quality control. Out of the 19 samples, 18 tested positive for the B. the Omicron variant, while, one was the Delta variant.

The Surveillance and Laboratory Pillars of the response are busy at work to learn more about travel history and contacts of these cases,” he stated.

Despite over 600 cases recorded in only five days, and the confirmed cases of the new omicron Covid-19 variant, Geingob has decided to keep the current pandemic regulations unchanged.

“I am told by our specialists that we have been able to detect 18 cases of the Omicron variant in Namibia, of which the evidence before us suggests that easier spread, concerning multiple mutations and reinjection,” Geingob stated.