WHO says omicron variant confirmed in 57 nations up to now
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The federal government will remove the restrictions placed on eight southern African countries last week following the invention of the COVID-19 omicron variant, announced Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville yesterday.
Those countries include Botswana; Eswatini (formerly Swaziland); Lesotho; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Zimbabwe; and South Africa.
The restrictions were implemented as other countries globally announced similar travel bans with early evidence suggesting the variant, which was first identified in South Africa, could have the next re-infection risk.
We cannot afford to let our guard down and lively discussions with our partners from the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation are ongoing about meaningful ways to strengthen travel requirements for entry into our country.
– Minister of Health & Wellness Dr Michael Darville
The variant, nonetheless, has now been reported in 57 nations, in keeping with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Nevertheless, more data is required to evaluate the severity of the impact attributable to the omicron variant and whether its mutations might reduce protection from vaccine-derived immunity.
Addressing the matter during a contribution in Parliament, Darville said: “Given the pervasiveness of the omicron variant and its purported milder nature, The Bahamas will remove associated travel restrictions imposed on African countries last weekend.
“Having said that, we cannot afford to let our guard down and lively discussions with our partners from the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation are ongoing about meaningful ways to strengthen travel requirements for entry into our country.”
Darville said he’ll meet with technical advisors to finalize new testing protocols aimed toward mitigating the importation of COVID-19 into the country.
There had been mounting criticisms from South African politicians and scientists, who said they felt targeted because they first discovered the variant through their advanced screening program, yet were being punished with travel bans.
Dutch health officials, nonetheless, announced last week that they found the new omicron variant had already been spreading in western Europe before the primary cases were identified in southern Africa.
As of December 7, there have been 22,859 total confirmed COVID-19 cases within the country.
The health minister noted that while it’s encouraging that hospitalizations are among the many lowest seen all yr and the test positivity rate has been trending below the five percent benchmark, COVID-19-related deaths remain a priority.
The entire variety of deaths is now pegged at 705, with a further 36 deaths under investigation.