Govt dismisses reports of new Covid-19 variant in Uganda

There is no new wave of Covid-19 circulating in Uganda, the government through the ministry of Health has said.

Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, director of public health at the ministry dismissed as scaremongering a social media dossier suggesting that the new variant in the country causes no cough or fever but rather symptoms like neck pain, headache, joint pains, and pneumonia.

While acknowledging that people are still contracting the viral respiratory disease, Kyabayinze emphasized that there has been no surge in hospitalization or deaths in Uganda.

“I don’t know the source of this information nor do we know the authority and training of the people giving that kind of information. In the world, there are two new strains of variants which are an offshoot of Omicron. We have seen two specific ones JN1 and another one with X which are circulating in other countries and now causing the rise in the number of cases in countries like the US the numbers are going high because of the festive seasons and the season. However, in the background, we’re also knowing that there is Covid in circulation, even in Uganda. The only difference is we’re not seeing people hospitalised, no change in numbers and no people recorded died due to Covid,” said Kyabayinze.

Kyabayinze encouraged individuals with suspicious symptoms to undergo testing to eliminate the possibility of either normal seasonal flu or Covid-19. He expressed concern over declining numbers of people seeking testing and vaccination.

“Many people have been infected before, so Covid is becoming one of the normal infections that we’re having in the population. So it is no longer a public concern if the strain can be managed and is being prevented by the vaccines we got…This is the comfort I’m giving to Ugandans,” added Kyabayinze.

For safety, the ministry urged people to consider booster doses, whose uptake has been low, resulting in the expiration of over five million doses valued at approximately Shs 28 billion, as per the recent Auditor General’s report. National Medical Stores (NMS) recently issued an urgent call for the utilization of Covid-19 vaccines in stores.

Appearing before the parliamentary health committee, Moses Kamabare, the NMS boss, highlighted that demand for these drugs by districts is nearly zero, expressing concern that they might expire if efforts to increase uptake are not implemented. However, Kyabayinze clarified that the ministry has no plans for a new vaccination campaign to encourage booster shots.

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