- WHO said researchers in South Africa and around the world are currently conducting studies to better understand the aspects of Omicron.
- However, the WHO noted preliminary evidence indicates that people who have previously had Covid-19 could become reinfected more easily
Doctors have urged the government to ensure health facilities are equipped and ready to handle any Covid-19 surges in the wake of the new Omicron variant.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union on Tuesday said even though it is not yet clear whether the strain is more transmissible compared to others, preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection.
The doctors now want the Health ministry to ensure there are enough ventilators in health facilities, as well as enough intensive care unit beds in readiness for any eventuality.
“There is a need to have a quick way to manage the virus in case there is a resurgence. We need to have hospitals well equipped,” KMPDU secretary general Davji Atellah said.
“We know we have been having different waves of Covid over the years but what has the ministry put in pace to ensure that if we have a resurgence next month or two months, we will be able to combat it,” he added.
The heavily mutated Omicron Covid variant was isolated last week by scientists in South Africa and has been listed as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation based on advice from the Technical Advisory Group on the virus evolution.
The WHO has said the variant is likely to spread internationally and poses a high risk of infection surges that could have "severe consequences" in some places.
“We need to have the ventilators, we need to have the ICUs equipped, we need to have many more doctors and healthcare worker employed so that the strains we saw recently within the hospitals, the shortages that we experienced will not be repeated,” KMPDU national chairman Abidan Mwachi said.
WHO has asked countries to keep borders open saying there is no evidence that the Omicron variant is more dangerous than existing Covid-19 variants.
WHO said researchers in South Africa and around the world are currently conducting studies to better understand the aspects of Omicron.
However, the WHO noted preliminary evidence indicates that people who have previously had Covid-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron when compared to other variants of concern.
“While preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalisation in South Africa, this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of a specific infection with Omicron,” WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution said in a statement.
Kenya last week announced it will not ban flights to and from nations where Omicron has been reported.
"As a government we are fully committed, ready and prepared; our borders and airports have been secured with screening being improved," Health PS Susan Mochache said on Sunday.
The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany have also detected cases of Omicron and not suffered any bans.
The bans have only been directed at African countries.
But the doctors union has termed the move as immoral and discriminatory on African countries, adding that there is need to collective effort to combat the virus as it is a global affair.
-Edited by SKanyara