By Thandiwe Garusa
BOTSWANA has detected a new omicron sub variant, Omicron B.A.4 and B.A.5.
Authorities in the neighbouring country said four people have tested positive to the new variant and have mild symptoms so far.
In a statement Monday, Botswana’s Health ministry permanent Christopher Nyanga urged the public not to panic.
“The ministry of health and wellness wishes to inform members of the public that our scientists have been investigating new corona virus mutations detected in Botswana,” Nyanga said.
“On further analysis and verification, these mutations which have been so far detected in four people in Botswana, have been noted as a new sub lineage of the omicron variant,” he said.
“The preliminary finding of this new sub lineage in Botswana has been designated as Omicron B.A.4 and B.A.5. The four cases are currently being monitored to gather more information about the potential impact on the disease spread and severity,” he added.
“So far, no conclusions have been made yet in relation to whether the sub lineage is more deadly and more transmissible than the known omicron variant.”
“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 infection rates and cause severe disease. This would be due to among others changes in virus behaviour and characteristics.”
“At the moment, the ministry calls upon members of the public not to panic but continue being vigilant. The public is further encouraged to vaccinate and take booster shots if eligible. This is important because in the event the new variants of Covid-19 emerge and spark a new wave of infections (Fifth wave) the impact may be more severe for the unvaccinated,” he said.
The ministry is still conducting studies on the properties and characteristics of this Omicron sub lineage to gain more data and knowledge on its behaviours and waiting for guidelines from the World Health Organisation on how to manage its transmission.