The omicron variant of COVID-19 has now been detected in Zimbabwe, VP Constantino Chiwenga has said, urging more vigilance to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We are doing the genomic sequencing, and we have already identified that we now have it in this country and therefore must remain vigilant,” Chiwenga said at a meeting with young farmers in Harare on Thursday.
“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.”
He did not provide details on the extent of the spread.
Cases have risen over the past week as government also stepped-up testing. The number of new cases rose sharply to 712 on Wednesday, up from 40 on Sunday.
This week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced tough measures to limit travel into Zimbabwe, saying this was necessary to deal with the risk presented by the new variant.
“What raises our concern, and adds to our anxieties, is the outbreak of a new strain – omicron – detected and reported in neighbouring countries only a few days ago,” Mnangagwa said. “We face a new, added risk, which compounds the burden we already face and shoulder from known variants we have been grappling since the outbreak of the pandemic.”
Among the measures is an order to test all travelers on arrival and to mandate a 10-day quarantine period for everyone arriving in the country, including residents.