KAMPALA: The Ministry of Health has intensified surveillance at points of entry and mandatory testing of all incoming travelers to combat the importation of the new COVID-19 variant into the country.
The Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng told journalists in Kampala on Thursday, December 2, 2021, that the new variant, Omicron, has not yet been detected in the country.
“Not much is known about the variant since it is new, but, this variant is reported to have 32 mutations (genetic changes). In the spike protein gene (the coat of the virus), more than those that have been identified in several other variants of concern including the Delta and Alpha variants,” she said.
“While the Omicron variant has been reported in several countries across the world, it is important to note that this variant has not been detected in Uganda,” Dr. Aceng said.
The minister said mandatory testing of all incoming travelers has so far prevented the country from importing deadly variants.
“To date, 48,259 samples have been tested with 228 positive cases recorded. On average, six (6) positive cases are recorded daily. Testing of incoming travelers at other land Points of Entry will be conducted by the private laboratories at Government set rates,” she said.
According to the minister, persons who test positive shall be tracked and put under home-based care or health facility-based isolation depending on the severity of the disease.
“Symptomatic cases requiring admission shall be managed at designated COVID-19 treatment units. All positive samples from travelers shall undergo genomic sequencing to enable detection of the Omicron and other variants,” she added.
To date, Uganda has registered 127,485 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,252 deaths. The current admissions stand at 115 in both public and private facilities, according to government figures.
Officials at the Ministry of Health say Uganda has sustained low transmission of COVID-19 with a positivity rate of less than 5% since September 2021.
This comes after South African health officials said the new coronavirus variant Omicron has now become dominant in the country and is driving a sharp increase in new infections.
Some 8,500 new COVID-19 infections were registered in the latest daily figures. That is almost double the 4,300 cases confirmed on Wednesday.
South Africa was the first country to detect the highly mutated new variant Omicron, which has now been detected in at least 24 countries around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).