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Zim records first case of new COVID-19 variant Omicron

VICE-PRESIDENT and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga yesterday confirmed that the country had recorded its first case of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, raising fears of a hard lockdown in the coming few weeks.

Scientists fear that the variant is more contagious and vaccines may be less effective against it.

The announcement by Chiwenga comes at a time when the country has been recording a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent days, resulting in some schools closing early.

The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa and Botswana.

Yesterday, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) confirmed the country’s first case of the new variant of the COVID-19, Omicron.

The new variant has now been reported in at least 24 countries.

Chiwenga, who last week urged Zimbabweans not to panic over the new variant, confirmed that the country had recorded its first confirmed case.

“We are doing the genomic sequencing and we have already identified that we now have it (Omicron) in this country and, therefore, must remain vigilant,” Chiwengwa told young farmers in the capital yesterday.

“We want everyone to be safe, so let us be vaccinated and then let us follow the protocols. We don’t want to end up putting extra measures but if we follow these measures, I think every one of us will be safe and we will conquer this enemy.”

The announcement came a day after President Emmerson Mnangagwa had reimposed level two lockdown measures that include mandatory quarantine for returning citizens and visitors upon entering the country.

A 9pm to 6am curfew is now in place, restaurants and supermarkets must close at 7pm, bars and nightclubs are only open to the vaccinated while burials will now be monitored by Health ministry environmental officials.

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