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At least seven cases of Omicron variant have been confirmed in Uganda as weekly new #Covid-19 cases on the continent rise due to an upsurge in southern Africa.

The new variant was detected from 11 samples taken on November 29, from travellers who arrived in the country through Entebbe International Airport.

“We report the first time detection of Omicron variant in Uganda from samples taken from travellers arriving in the country through Entebbe International Airport,” Researchers and scientists from Uganda virus research Institute (UVRI), Medical Research Council, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine announced.

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The travellers arrived from Nigeria , United Arab Emirates, South Africa , Democratic Republic of Congo  and Netherlands  aboard. The deep sequence read were assembled  using Genome Detective Software and quality control of sequence  was done using Nextclade and Geneisous program followed by lineage classification using both Pango Lineage typing and nextclade.

“Seven of the 11 Genomes were classified as belonging to Omicron variant and the other four were delta variant” medical Researchers and scientists said in a statement

Omicron variant has been designated as a variant of concern by World Health Organisation (WHO) and presents with some deletions. The South African variant has a high number of mutations (32) in its spike protein, and preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection, when compared with other variants of concern.

Researchers and scientists in South Africa and the region are intensifying their investigations to understand the transmissibility, severity and impact of the Omicron variant in relation to the available vaccines, diagnostics and treatment and whether it is driving the latest surge in #Covid-19 infections.

In Africa, vaccination rates remain low. Only 102 million people, or 7.5% of the population, is fully vaccinated. More than 80% of the population still needs to receive a first dose.

Only five African nations have reached the WHO global target for countries to fully vaccinate 40% of their population by the end of 2021. Botswana could become the sixth if its current vaccination rates are maintained. Just three other African countries have enough vaccine supplies to meet the targets but, at the current pace of uptake, they will be unable to do so.