Rapid spread of Omicron COVID-19 variant in Zambia raises concern


The rapid spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in Zambia has raised concerns in the health sector, with positivity getting as high as over 50 percent in some provinces, health minister Sylvia Masebo said on Friday.

The situation is worrying as all 10 provinces in the country have continued to record positivity of between 20 percent and 40 percent, with the northwestern province reporting 56 percent in the past 24 hours, she said.

The situation has been worsened by the laxity in people getting vaccinated, Masebo said, noting that 80 percent of those hospitalized for COVID-19 have not been vaccinated.

“The Omicron variant driving this fourth wave is highly transmissible and is not selective as to who it infects. Where we are today, approximately one in every three persons is carrying the virus,” she told a briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The situation may overwhelm the health care system if not properly addressed, the minister said, adding that the government is concerned that there is laxity in adhering to preventive guidelines.

Zambia has recorded a total of 63,793 new cases, 1,404 new hospital admissions and 115 deaths since five weeks ago when the Omicron variant was first reported in the country, Masebo said.

The rapid spread of the new variant is not only a health problem but a multisectoral one that requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders, she said.

Zambia’s cumulative cases stand at 278,276, recoveries and deaths at 241,747 and 3,790 respectively.

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