Covid19 Taskforce alarms as new infectious variant emerges

By James Atem Kuir

The National covid19 Taskforce has called on the public to stay alert and observe all preventive measures against Covid-19 as countries around the world have reported cases of a new infectious strain of the virus that has killed 5.2 million people globally.

On Friday last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the variant B.1.1.529 a ‘variant of concern’ and named it Omicron after the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. 

The variant first detected in South Africa, is said to have several mutations, making it likely to spread  more easily and cause severe illness.  The WHO said it was yet to be understood whether the new variant has impact on existing countermeasures, including vaccines.

Following the discovery of the variant last week, countries around the world swiftly moved to ban flights to and from South Africa and neighbouring countries in the Southern African region. some European countries including the UK and Belgium have already detected the strain among passengers coming from the region.

Though South Sudan has not recorded a case of the variant, Israel on Sunday imposed a ban on flights the country alongside 49 other fellow African countries.

In an update issued on the national broadcaster, SSBC Monday evening, Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi Akol who is also the Chairman for the National Taskforce on Covid-19 Pandemic, called on the public to strictly observe wearing of facemasks, physical distancing, handwashing and avoid crowded places to minimize the risk of catching and spreading the disease.

“We are calling upon our citizens to strictly observe preventive measures such as constant wearing of facemasks, handwashing, avoidance of handshake, exercise of physical distancing, keeping away from crowded areas and getting vaccinated.

“The National Taskforce will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with WHO, CDC and Africa CDC. I call upon our people to remain alert and vigilant because the fight against the pandemic is collective responsibility and we must all cooperate and work to together to prevent a new resurgence of the virus,” the vice president said.

“All government institutions, private sector agencies, organizations, religious institutions, civil societies and media houses are directed to disseminate correct and reliable information on the new variant situation update shall be issued timely to educate the public on new development as well as policy measures to be imposed. the National Taskforce on corona virus pandemic remains on top of the situation,” he added. 

On Sunday, medics at the national public health laboratory said surveillance measures have been stepped up and to detect cases of the new variant in the country.

As of November 29, 2021, South Sudan has recorded 12, 755 cases of the Covid19 with at least 133 deaths, according to the WHO dashboard. The statistics also indicated that at least 212,946 vaccine doses had been administered in the ongoing vaccination drive across the country.

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