Data from the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens(WACCBIP) has established that the Omicron variant is currently leading the country’s COVID-19 case count accounting largely for the daily high infections.
Senior Research Fellow, Dr Peter Quarshie, in an interview with the Ghanaian Timesover the weekend, said Omicron had taken over the Delta strain indicating for instance, that of 100 samples sequencedlast month, 74were identified as Omicronas the strain continues to spread widely among the population.
“We still have some Delta circulating but Omicron is leading the infection rate now. We expected cases to rise leading up to the festivities and peak sometime afterwards which is normal for this kind of virus but what we didn’t anticipate is the rise of Omicron and it’s primarily due to that variant that we now have high number of confirmed cases each given day,” he stated.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) in December last year confirmed 41 cases of Omicron; 34 at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and seven within the community.
The variant, reported to have high transmissibility than other strains, is said to present milder symptoms in the form of flu, nausea, fatigue among others resulting in less severe disease and hospitalisation.
DrQuarshie warned however, that the nature of Omicron was not licence for people to ‘misbehave’ so as to contract the variant.
“It is ill-advised to think that because Omicron is milder, you do not need to vaccinate or protect yourself. It is dangerous to get the virus whether you show symptoms or not because the long-term effects on how your body functions may be dire.”
The virologist urged the public to disregard ill advice on taking the COVID-19 vaccines and “listen to the health experts” adding that the “speeding up the rate of vaccination and observing the protocols; reducing mass gatherings, washing of hands and wearing of face masks which is one of the strongest barrier to getting infection, is the way to go.”
Meanwhile, Ghana at present has an active case count of 13,007 with death toll rising to 1,325 as of January 5, 2022.
About 2.8 million (representing 14.2 per cent) people are so far fully vaccinated and over 6.6 million have taken at least one dose of a vaccine.
In a related development government has hinted of fully enforcing a nationwide “no vaccination, no entry” policy which has since January 4, 2022 been implemented by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other government agencies.
The directive which ensures that staff of public institutions as well as visitors show proof of vaccination before allowed access to the premises, forms part of measures to control spread of COVID-19.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH