Botswana scientists have detected a new COVID-19 variant and are still gathering information about the potential impact on disease spread and severity, a statement by the Permanent Secretary of Botswana Health Ministry, Dr Christopher Nyanga has said.
Nyanga said mutations detected showed that the variant is a new sub lineage of Omicron.
“The preliminary finding of this new sub lineage in Botswana has been designated as Omicron BA.4 and BA.5.
“The four cases are currently being monitored to gather more information about the potential impact on disease spread and severity.”
Nyanga said four people have already been found positive of the new variant.
“The quartet are fully vaccinated and have been experiencing only mild symptoms. The same new sub lineage has also been reported in three other countries,” said Nyanga.
The ministry said it was collaborating with other stakeholders, including regional and international bodies, and was studying the properties and characteristics of the Omicron sub lineage in order to gain more data and knowledge about its behaviour.
No conclusions had been drawn regarding whether the sub lineage was deadlier and more transmissible than the known Omicron variant. Similarly, investigations on whether Covid-19 vaccines were effective against this sub lineage are ongoing.
The ministry added that it awaited further guidance from the World Health Organization on how to manage its transmission.
It called on members of the public not to panic but to continue being vigilant.
“The public is further encouraged to vaccinate and take their booster shots, if eligible,” said Nyanga.