WHO says omicron variant has been confirmed in 57 countries so far
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government will lift restrictions imposed on eight southern African countries last week following the discovery of the omicron variant of COVID-19, the Minister of Health and Welfare, Dr Michael, announced yesterday Darville.
These countries include Botswana; Eswatini (formerly Swaziland); Lesotho; Malawi; Mozambican; Namibia; Zimbabwe; and South Africa.
The restrictions were implemented as other countries around the world announced similar travel bans with early evidence suggesting the variant, which was first identified in South Africa, may have a risk of higher reinfection.
We cannot afford to let our guard down and active discussions with our partners in the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation are underway on meaningful ways to strengthen travel requirements to enter our country.
– Minister of Health and Welfare Dr Michael Darville
The variant, however, has now been reported in 57 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, more data are needed to assess the severity of the impact caused by the omicron variant and whether its mutations could reduce protection against vaccine-derived immunity.
Addressing the issue during a contribution to Parliament, Darville said: “Given the ubiquity of the omicron variant and its purported milder nature, the Bahamas will remove the associated travel restrictions imposed on African countries on weekends. last.
“Having said that, we cannot afford to let our guard down and active discussions with our partners in the Ministry of Tourism, Investment and Aviation are underway on meaningful ways to strengthen travel requirements to enter our country.”
Darville said he would meet with technical advisers to finalize new testing protocols aimed at mitigating the importation of COVID-19 into the country.
There was growing criticism from South African politicians and scientists, who said they felt targeted because they first discovered the variant through their advanced screening program, yet were punished with travel bans.
Dutch health authorities, however, announced last week that they had discovered that the new omicron variant had already spread to Western Europe before the first cases were identified in southern Africa.
As of December 7, there were 22,859 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.
The Minister of Health noted that while it is encouraging that hospitalizations are among the lowest all year and that the test positivity rate tends to be below the 5% benchmark, deaths linked to the COVID-19 remain a concern.
The total number of deaths is now set at 705, with 36 more deaths under investigation.