Current Covid-19 tests can detect Omicron

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Zimbabwe representative, Dr Alex Gasasira has said that the diagnostic tests are able to detect the Omicron variant.

This was in reaction to concerns that a lot of people were testing negative for Covid-19 despite exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms.

Speaking to journalists from across East and Southern Africa during a cross-border science cafe, Dr Gasasira said all the measures that have been applied since the start of the pandemic still work for the Omicron variant.

“The good news is that the omicron is still being picked up by our diagnostic tests that have been in use. All diagnostic tests that have been approved by WHO are still effective at picking up omicron variants, so again we need to encourage anybody who is unwell, we need to encourage our Health workers to be vigilant to test.”

Dr Gasasira added that countries need to do more genetic sequencing to know which variant they are dealing with.

“Again, although the preliminary picture seems to suggest that this may be a milder illness, we cannot take this for granted, it’s not proven now. We still need to encourage everybody to get vaccinated, especially those who have not received the first or second dose of vaccination,” said Dr Gasasira.

“By the first week of December, most of the samples that were collected were omicron. Now; why we can’t reach a firm conclusion as to what proportion we still have of omicron and what proportion are Delta, and we also had other smaller

variants that are not very well known, variants which may not even be variants of concern but of interest is because of the number of samples that have been processed to date is still very small.”

Dr Gasasira said it was important for people to continue to adhere to preventative measures like the wearing of face masks, physical distancing, and avoiding crowds in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

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