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Namibia frets over Delta virus variant

2021-07-05  Albertina Nakale

Namibia frets over Delta virus variant
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Namibian authorities are still waiting to hear if the highly contagious Delta variant is present in the country. The nation eagerly waited on Friday for government to make an announcement if the deadly strain was responsible for the sharply rising new cases and mounting
deaths locally. 

During the Covid-19 address to the nation last week, President Hage Geingob said there were clear indications that the aggressive strain, first detected in India earlier this year, had landed in the southern African countries. However, the University of Namibia School of Health Sciences was still busy carrying out the relevant testing as well as data collection for research under the stewardship of Dr Immanuel
Nepolo. 

Unam spokesperson John Haufiku last week confirmed the Unam’s School of Health Sciences was busy with data collection to determine whether the Delta variant is here. Health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe yesterday said data collection for research was still underway. 

“I spoke to Unam yesterday (Saturday) but they said they are not yet ready. We are still waiting for the results,” Nangombe said. The Delta variant terrorised India this year, as the new strain made its way across the country, claiming the lives of nearly 400 000 people. 

The Delta is also spreading rapidly through Africa, a continent lagging behind in terms of vaccination rate and overwhelmed healthcare systems. Through Africa, at least 20 countries are experiencing sharp increases in infections that have already surpassed or are projected to top earlier peaks, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Over the past week, Covid-19 infections on the continent jumped by 31%, while the number of deaths rose by 19%, the CDC said.

 The variant has now been identified in at least 13 of the continent’s 54 countries, although few African nations have the capacity for large-scale genome sequencing. 

In several countries, including Uganda, Congo and South Africa, Delta has become the dominant strain of the virus within just a few weeks, coinciding with unprecedented peaks in Covid-19 cases. Some are warning that previous infection from another strain of the virus may not protect against Delta, leaving swaths of the population that were believed to be immune once again vulnerable. 

– anakale@nepc.com.na 


2021-07-05  Albertina Nakale

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