On November 21, 2021, Ghana confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant.
According to the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye the cases were detected in two passengers travelling from Nigeria and South Africa.
“Through the robust testing at the Kotoka International Airport, Ghana has detected the Omicron variant already and the cases have come mainly from Nigeria and South Africa. The very first case that was detected through our sequencing was on the 21st of November,” he stated at a press conference.
So far 30 African countries—and at least 142 globally—have detected the Omicron variant. The Delta variant has been reported in 42 countries in Africa.
In West Africa where COVID-19 cases are on the rise, the number of Omicron sequences undertaken by countries including Cabo Verde, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal is growing. In Cabo Verde and Nigeria, Omicron is currently the dominant variant.
Overall risk related to Omicron remains very high
On November 26, 2021, WHO designated variant B.1.1.529 a variant of concern (VOC), following advice from the WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution.
The variant was given the name Omicron and based on the currently available evidence, the overall risk related to Omicron remains very high.
The overall threat posed by Omicron largely depends on four key questions:
- how transmissible the variant is;
- how well vaccines and prior infection protect against infection, transmission, clinical disease and death;
- how virulent the variant is compared to other variants; and
- how populations understand these dynamics, perceive risk and follow control measures, including public health and social measures (PHSM).
Omicron has a significant growth advantage over Delta, leading to rapid spread in the community with higher levels of incidence than previously seen in this pandemic.
Despite a lower risk of severe disease and death following infection than previous SARS-CoV-2 variants, the very high levels of transmission nevertheless have resulted in significant increases in hospitalization, continue to pose overwhelming demands on health care systems in most countries, and may lead to significant morbidity, particularly in vulnerable populations.
By: Gifty Tracy Aminu