The Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) has spoken against travel bans being imposed on travelers from countries where Omicron, the new variant of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 has been discovered.
In a statement on its official website on Friday, the centre said travels bans have not yielded profitable outcome in the past, hence they have recommended other measures including implementation of Public Health And Social Measures (PHSM), including mask wearing, physical distancing and hand washing, as crucial to limit the transmission of COVID-19 regardless of the emergence of new COVID-19 variants.
“Africa CDC strongly discourages the imposition of travel ban for people originating from countries that have reported this variant. In fact, over the duration of this pandemic, we have observed that imposing bans on travelers from countries where a new variant is reported has not yielded a meaningful outcome. Rather implementing PHSM should be prioritized,” the Africa CDC stated.
Meanwhile the centre has disclosed that the virus has mutated into several variants that have been identified but yet to be characterized and that several investigations have been launched to determine Impact Of COVID-19 Mutations
“Many of the other identified mutations are not yet well characterized and have not been identified in other currently circulating variants. More investigations are underway to determine the possible impact of these mutations on the capacity of the virus to transmit more efficiently, to impact vaccine effectiveness and evade immune response, and to cause more severe or milder disease,” the centre stated.
On Thursday November 25, South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced the detection of a new variant of the SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, following genomic sequencing. The emergence of this new variant coincides with a sudden increase in cases in South Africa’s Gauteng province in recent.
As at the day of announcement, the new variant named Omicron had been detected in 77 samples which were collected between November 12-20 from Gauteng province in South Africa, four samples from Botswana and one sample in Hong Kong.
According to AFDC, Some of the mutations displayed by the variant have been detected in previous variants, such as Alpha and Delta, and have been associated with increased transmissibility and immune evasion.
Consequently it has further recommended that public health laboratories and researchers should closely monitor the rate of S gene drop out results, adding that timely genomic surveillance should be reinforced through coordination with national and regional pathogen genomics laboratories.
On its part the Africa CDC has said it will, through the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative, support this coordination at the continental level.