HEALTH experts have urged Zimbabweans to desist from panicking over the new COVID-19 variant IHU.1.640.2, which has been detected in France and is said to have 46 mutations more than the Omicron variant.
Local epidemiologist Grant Murewanhema told NewsDay today: “We don’t need to be over excited about this newly discovered variant because we don’t know so much about it now, and it has not even been classified as a variant of concern or a variant of interest.”
He said what Zimbabweans need to do is to stick to World Health Organisation stipulated prevention measures such as hand washing and constant wearing of face masks.
Murewanhema said variants of concern must have properties that are so different from other variants so as to increase in transitivity or the possibility of invading previous public health interventions that were working such as vaccination, or to cause critical illness and epidemically different diseases .
“We also have newer vaccines that are coming on the market, which will offer really sufficient protection against newer variants. For example, the Delta variant resulted in many people needing hospitalisation and treatment.
“lf that happens with the newer variant, then we know that we are in for a fix because Zimbabwe’s health system is basically very fragile, and it is not prepared to deal with large scale outbreaks . However, if the new variant is like Omicron which resulted in fewer hospitalisation, then we should not have issues,” Murewanhema said.
COVID-19 national taskforce chief coordinator Agnes Mahomva said: “The country is prepared for any variant, whether Omicron or IHU.”