Namibia’s COVID-19 surge due to Omicron sub-lineage variants: minister


People line up to be tested for COVID-19 at the Windhoek Center in Namibia on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Photo via CFP)

Namibia’s current upsurge in the number of new COVID-19 cases is being driven by the Omicron variants sublineage BA.2 and BA.4, which have been identified in the country, Namibia’s Minister of Health and Social Service Kalumbi Shangula said Friday.

“It is also suspected that the Omicron sublineage BA.5 is also circulating in Namibia,” he said on the occasion of the 43rd COVID-19 public briefing in Windhoek.

According to Shangula, the characteristics of these sublineages are almost similar.

“The descendants of Omicron variant BA.2 could be more contagious but not cause severe disease. The BA.2 possesses immune evasive properties, which may be the reason why Namibia observed a sharp increase in the number of infections during this week,” he added.

Shangula said although it is no longer a requirement by law to wear a face mask, the wearing of masks is one of the critical interventions in preventing the transmission of infection.

“It is strongly recommended that people continue to wear face masks at public places and at all public gatherings including businesses, workplaces, on airplanes, schools, public and private institutions,” he said.

The minister said to open up the economy and balance lives and livelihoods, fully vaccinated Namibians and non-Namibian citizens will be allowed to enter the country without a PCR test provided they present proof of fully vaccinated status or present a negative PCR test result valid within the period of 72 hours after the specimen was collected if proof of full vaccination status cannot be provided.

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