* The preliminary finding of this new sub-lineage is been designated as Omicron BA.4 and BA.5
* The four cases are currently being monitored to gather more information about the potential impact
* Botswana is in collaboration with other stakeholders to continue studying the properties and characteristics of this Omicron sub-lineage
* In order to gain more data and knowledge about its behaviour
By Duncan Mlanjira
Botswana’s Ministry of Health & Wellness has warned its citizenry that its scientists have been investigating new Coronavirus mutations that were detected in four people and on further analysis and verifications, these mutations have been noted as a new sub-lineage of Omicron variant.
A statement from that country’s Ministry of Health further says “the preliminary finding of this new sub-lineage is been designated as Omicron BA.4 and BA.5” and that the four cases are “currently being monitored to gather more information about the potential impact on disease spread and severity”.
The four comprise two residents and two non-residents aged between 30 and 50 years with the non-residents having a recent travel history and that all four are fully vaccinated who were experiencing only mild symptoms.
The Ministry reported that the same sub-lineage has been reported in three countries and that Botswana was in collaboration with other stakeholders — including regional and international bodies — to continue studying the properties and characteristics of this Omicron sub-lineage in order to gain more data and knowledge about its behaviour.
“So far, no conclusions have been made yet, in relation to whether or not, the sub-lineage is more deadly and more transmissible than the known Omicron variant,” said the report. “Similarly, investigations on whether CoVID-19 vaccines are effective against this sub-lineage are ongoing.
“Although it is common for viruses to mutate as they spread from one person to another, some mutations become responsible for high infections rates and cause severe disease. This would be due to among others, changes in virus behaviour and characteristics.
“When this happens, the new variant could be determined as a variant of concern (VOC). These new specific changes are always subject to further investigations and verification with the world scientific community.
The Botswana Health authority further said it awaits further guidance from World Health Organization (WHO) on how to manage the transmission, while calling upon its citizenry not to panic but to continue being vigilant.
“The public is further encouraged to get vaccinated and take their booster shots if eligible. This is important because in the event new variants of CoVID-19 emerge and spark a new wave of infectious, the impact may be more severe for the unvaccinated.”
In Malawi, two new CoVID-19 cases were detected in the past 24 hours of Monday, both being local transmissions while 104 were new recoveries with zero death.
On vaccination, 908,688 are fully vaccinated and 1,145,897 have had their first jab with 955 having had the booster dose.
In Monday’s situation report, co-chairperson of taskforce on CoVID-19, Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said they rolled out the Finish a Vial (FAV) CoVID-19 vaccination campaign that started on Monday and ends Thursday April 14 in all the district health offices in the country which is aimed at bringing vaccines closer to the communities.
“Our children should also be encouraged to get the Pfizer vaccine during this week,” she said. “Vaccinating children aged 12 years and older can help protect them from getting CoVID-19, spreading the virus to others, and getting sick if they do get infected.
“While CoVID-19 tends to be milder in children than adults, it can make children very sick, require hospitalization, and unfortunately other children have lost their lives. Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness compared to children without underlying medical conditions.
“Getting your child vaccinated helps to protect your child and your family, including siblings who are not eligible for vaccination and family members who may be at risk of getting very sick if infected.
“Vaccination in Malawi is now recommended for everyone aged 12 years and older. Some children may have some side effects, which are similar to those seen with other routine vaccines and are a normal sign that their body is building protection.
“These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but they should disappear in a few days. It should be noted however that other people will not have side effects.”
Meanwhile, Malawi has recorded 85,705 cases including 2,628 deaths at case fatality rate of 3.07% and of these cases, 2,833 are imported infections and 82,872 are locally transmitted.
Cumulatively, 81,489 cases have now recovered at recovery rate of 95.08% of which 277 were lost to follow-up — bringing the total number of active cases to 1,311.
There were no new admissions and no new discharges from the treatment units in the past 24 hours of Monday and that currently, nine active cases are hospitalised — six in Blantyre and three in Lilongwe.