NEW VARIANT IN TOWN

Omicron variant spreading faster than other variants - WHO

Is the Kenyan Health system ready to tackle the omicron variant?

In Summary
  • Ministry of Health data shows that only 12 per cent of adults have been vaccinated.

  • While targeting 10 million by Christmas, so far only 3,276,236 have been fully vaccinated.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a presser at Radisson Blue in Nairobi on June 25, 2021.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a presser at Radisson Blue in Nairobi on June 25, 2021.
Image: MARGARET WANJIRU

The World Health Organization has warned that Omicron is spreading at a fast rate that has not been seen with the other variants.

Kenya, on Wednesday, joined the list of 77 countries that have reported the presence of the variant in the country.

“We are concerned that people are dismissing Omicron as mild, even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems,” WHO Director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a media brief.

“I need to be very clear: vaccines alone will not get any country out of this crisis. It’s not vaccines instead of masks, distancing, ventilation or hand hygiene. Do it all. Do it consistently. Do it well.”


He once again highlighted vaccine inequity with many Western countries racing to roll out vaccine booster jab and poorer countries still struggling to get the first jab to much of the population.

He pointed out that 41 countries have still not managed to vaccinate 10 per cent of their population and 98 countries have not reached the 40 per cent mark.

 "If we end the inequity, we end the pandemic. If we allow inequity to continue, we allow the pandemic to go forward," he insisted.


Countries across  Europe and the rest of the world have been enacting further restrictions to fight the spread of the new strain.

Kenya’s fight against the disease is in the spotlight given that the country is lagging in its vaccination drive.


A medic holds a bottle of Covid-19 vaccine.
A medic holds a bottle of Covid-19 vaccine.
Image: REUTERS

The proportion of tests coming back positive  rose to 6.5 percent on Monday from five percent recorded on Sunday amid the emergence of the infectious Omicron variant and 11.5 per cent on Tuesday.

Ministry of Health data shows that only 12 per cent of adults have been vaccinated; with the target population of 18 years and above. This is as of December 14.

While targeting 10 million by Christmas, so far only 3,276,236 have been fully vaccinated and 4,947,002 have been partially vaccinated.


Health CS Mutahi Kagwe on Wednesday said the three cases of the Omicron variant in the country were detected among travelers.

Uganda last week announced it had detected cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in travelers coming into the country.

The cases were detected in people screened at Entebbe International Airport who flew in from five different countries, Ugandan medical authorities said in a statement.

Five had come from Nigeria, two from South Africa -- where the variant was first reported -- and two from the United Arab Emirates.

Uganda was the first to report the Omicron variant, followed by Rwanda and now Kenya in East Africa.


The emergence of the highly mutated variant sparked fears that it could cause severe disease, be more contagious or could evade vaccines.

Early indicators suggest that it could be more transmissible, but promising data so far has suggested that vaccines still offer protection against Omicron.

 

Edited by CM