Zimbabwe has detected the Omicron variant, Vice President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga said Thursday, urging citizens to be vaccinated and follow safety regulations.
The confirmation of the variant’s presence comes as new infections have been on the rise, racing to 712 on Wednesday from 399 on Tuesday.
It also comes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced new measures which would see returning residents and visitors undergoing new PCR tests at ports of entry and quarantine for 10 days, at their own expense.
“We are doing the genomic sequencing. We have already identified that we now have it in this country and therefore must remain vigilant,” Chiwenga told a meeting of farmers in Harare.
“We want everyone to be safe so let’s be vaccinated and then let’s follow the protocols. We don’t want to end up putting extra measures but if we follow these measures, I think every one of us will be safe and we will conquer this invisible enemy.”
However, Chiwenga did not provide more information on the origins of the variant. Omicron, which has been classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a variant of concern, was first detected by South African scientists last week.
The variant has triggered travel curbs with 10 Southern African countries being placed on the red list by the UK and other European countries.
A number of private boarding schools have closed after detecting an increase in new cases. Zimbabwe says eligible citizens should be vaccinated and adhere to WHO protocols such as social distancing and the wearing of face masks.