Why there is a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases

Why there is a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases
Why there is a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases

Why there is a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases

WHO Health Emergencies Program COVID-19 Technical lead Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove has attributed the sharp increase in infection cases to the emergency of the Omicron variant.

Several countries in the world including Zimbabwe have seen a sharp rise in cases towards the festive season.

Omicron was first reported in South Africa and Botswana, although it had already been detected in other countries in Europe.

Currently, it has been reported in over 130 countries according to the World Health Organisation.

Dr Van Kerkhove said the increase is due to the variant’s mutations and efficient transmissibility between people.

“So, there are several reasons why we’re seeing such a sharp increase in case numbers. First, is the emergence of Omicron and the circulation of Omicron, which transmits very efficiently between people. There are a number of reasons for this. First, is the mutations that it has.

‘’The virus is able to adhere to human cells more easily. It has mutations that allow it to do that. Second, is that we have what is called immune escape. And this means that people can be reinfected either if they had a previous infection or if they’ve been vaccinated.

‘’Now you have to remember, vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing severe disease and death, but they don’t prevent all infections and they don’t prevent all onward transmission.

‘’So, it is still absolutely critical to get vaccinated because it will save your life, but it doesn’t prevent all infections or transmission.

The WHO COVID-19 Technical lead said the Omicron variant is replicating in the upper respiratory tract as compared to other variants.

‘’The other reason is that we are seeing replication of Omicron in the upper respiratory tract, and that’s different from Delta and other variants, including the ancestral strain which replicated in the lower respiratory tract, in the lungs.

‘’And so, this combination of factors allowed the virus to spread more easily,’’ she said.

According to Dr Van Kerkhove, what is also important to remember is that this is in the context of people mixing more, people coming into contact with others more, people not adhering to public health and social measures like distancing, wearing of a well-fitting mask, avoiding crowds, spending time more outdoors than indoors. She said all of those factors allow viruses to spread, whether it’s Omicron or something else.

Why there is a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases