The new and highly infectious coronavirus strain which was reported last week in Botswana, Southern Africa, was imported by foreign diplomats -authorities have stated.
The World Health Organization announced Friday it had designated the newly identified variant, B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern, named Omicron follwing reports the new virus in Botswana. The discovery has since triggered a global alarm with countries re-imposing strict restrictions on travellers and issuing red lists.
In a statement from the country’s ministry of health and welness, the new virus was detected on four foreign nationals who had entered Botswana on 7th November 2021 on a diplomatic mission.
According to the Permanent Secretary Dr Christopher Nyanga, the unnamed diplomats who have since left the country were identified to be positive with the virus on November 11 as they were preparing to return home.
“Four cases of the variant were reported by our local scientists as part of the country’s routine genomic survillance of SARS-COV2… The quartet tested positive for COVID-19 on the 11th November 2021 as they were preparing to return.” Dr Nyanga said.
He also noted that whereas the foreigners left, contact tracing is ongoing and all contacts so far identified have no symptoms for COVID-19 and all tested negative for the virus.
Dr Nyanga says his country has intensified investigations into the nature of this new virus and found out that it has many mutations some of which had been earlier characterized.
The World Health Organization advisory committee classified the new, heavily-mutated strain of Covid as a “variant of concern” among four others: the original Alpha strain of the virus; the Delta Variant; Gamma, first identified in Brazil; and Beta, which also emerged in South Africa.
The U.S. restricted travel from eight African countries on Friday amid growing concern about a new covid-19 variant including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mazambique and Malawi, according to the Washington Post.
The United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil, Thailand, Singapore, Tukey, Egypt, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan are also among those imposing restrictions on flights and travelers from southern African nations in light of the new variant.
Singapore, Tukey, Egypt, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan are also among those imposing restrictions on flights and travelers from southern African nations in light of the new variant.
Authorities in Botswana indicated that local scientists are conducting more intimate and complex analysis of new covid-19 positive cases to search for traces of the new virus, and therefore, no major conclusions can be drawn as yet since information on the new virus is still evolving.