Omicron variant found to be 3 times more transmissible than delta, but milder symptoms
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Just over half of the newly confirmed coronavirus infections yesterday had a history of travel.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 19 new cases, 15 of which were on New Windfall, three on Grand Bahama and one on Long Island.
Of those, 10 cases had a history of travel within the last two weeks.
All of those cases were on New Windfall.
Health experts have expressed concern a few fourth wave of COVID in The Bahamas, though cases have held within the low to medium double-digit figures.
The priority has been driven by surges in other countries battling omicron, a new COVID variant that early research has shown is more contagious but no more deadly than the delta strain.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Director of the HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Dr Nikkiah Forbes said health experts proceed to review the virus and located it could be 3 times more transmissible than the delta strain, however the symptoms have been milder.
“Nonetheless, we’re seeing that it’s spreading rapidly in lots of countries which can be reporting it now and a few of those countries’ hospitalizations are going up, so we still have to look at it rigorously,” she said.
The UK registered its first death of a patient with the omicron variant yesterday afternoon.
Forbes also said it appears a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine may also help protect against omicron.
The variant has been present in not less than a dozen countries, with rising cases in the UK, Australia and Germany, amongst others.
Amidst concern concerning the new strain, increased activities and travel in the course of the holidays, health officials have cautioned Bahamians and residents to stick to health protocols, proceed to get vaccinated and get booster doses for increased protection.
Starting yesterday, Bahamians and residents not require a health visa to return home, though the visa will remain in place for visitors.
In a recent address, Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis acknowledged that social gatherings will increase in the course of the Yuletide season, nonetheless, he encouraged families to carry functions outdoors where possible and when indoors, to maintain up health protocols.
The omicron strain was first reported on in southern Africa.
Last month, the Ministry of Health implemented new travel restrictions on eight southern African countries amid concerns about omicron.
Non-Bahamian residents, residents and individuals with work permits coming back from those countries were required to quarantine for 14 days at their very own expense and undergo screening.
The policy applied to each unvaccinated and vaccinated travelers.
Last week, the federal government announced it should remove the restrictions placed on the eight southern African countries, though the minister said discussions were ongoing to strengthen travel requirements.
In The Bahamas, there have been 22,926 coronavirus cases because the onset of the pandemic.
Of those, 375 remained energetic and 14 remained hospitalized as much as yesterday.
There have been a complete of 708 COVID-related deaths.