Omicron: Namibia Reports 18 Positives Out of 19 Samples

Health officials in Namibia announced on Monday that 18 of 19 samples sequenced between November 11 and November 26 contained Omicron coronavirus variants.

Although Namibia only sequenced a small number of samples, the discovery suggests that the variant was first identified by neighbouring South Africa and Botswana late last month, and since deemed ‘of concern’ by the World Health Organization, is also widespread there.

Namibia’s Omicron cases were mostly found in and around Windhoek, a region that reported 536 of the country’s 695 new infections in the first five days of December.

In addition to the 19 Omicron samples, the Delta strain was also sequenced.

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A number of countries, including South Africa, are racing to find out whether Omicron is more contagious, causes more severe illness, and is resistant to existing vaccines.

“We must remain on guard while we wait for further investigation about this variant,” Namibia’s health ministry said in a statement.

Namibia had been on high alert for Omicron after it was detected in two people in Japan and the Czech Republic who had travelled to Namibia previously.

Namibia, where only 318,000 people have been fully vaccinated in its 2.5 million population, warned last month that more than 268,000 doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines were at risk of being destroyed due to slow uptake.

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