A new variant of Covid-19 discovered in Botswana is believed to be a mutation of the Omicron variant first detected in southern Africa late last year. The Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness are watching a variant called Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, which has already been detected in three other countries and in four people in Botswana.
All four cases are currently being followed up to gather more information on the potential impact on the spread and severity of the disease.
“So far, no conclusion has yet been made as to whether the sublineage is more lethal and more transmissible than the known omicron variant,” said Christopher Nyanga, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Health.
However, he said that the patients are fully vaccinated and have only been showing mild symptoms. Investigations were underway to determine whether existing Covid-19 vaccines are effective against the new variant.
But authorities are urging the public not to panic- and instead to be vigilant, and take a vaccination or booster shot if eligible.
“The public is further encouraged to get vaccinated and get booster shots if possible. This is important because if new variants of Covid-19 emerge and trigger a new wave of infections (fifth wave), the impact could be more severe for unvaccinated people,” said Nyanga.
The discovery of the Omicron variant in South Africa and Botswana triggered a travel ban to and from southern Africa by most Western countries. The Ministry of Health says it is awaiting further guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) on how to manage its transmission.
- A Tell report