Zimbabwean scientists are undertaking genomic sequencing to determine the prevalence of the Covid-19 Delta variant in the country.
This comes as tests revealed that the country now had the Delta variant, which originated in India, in addition to the Beta variant which was first detected in South Africa.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing the third wave of infections which has significantly increased the cumulative figures of people affected to 60 227 and 1 973 deaths.
Chief coordinator to the national Covid-19 response Dr Agness Mahomva said when the country started experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year, the original strain from China was detected.
“At the peak of the second wave, our local scientists did genomic sequencing of the variants that we had and this showed that the country mainly had the Beta variant with 60 percent of the cases. We had no Delta variant then. Recently, genomic sequencing done on the Kwekwe cases showed that we now had the Delta variant but the scientists were not aware of the extent the variant had spread. So current genomic sequencing tests are being done to ascertain what percentage the Delta variant has affected,” she said.
Genomic sequencing has emerged as an increasingly important tool in the effort to contain Covid-19, as governments around the world grapple with continued transmission. Genomic sequencing allows health authorities to study prolonged outbreaks, map coronavirus clusters, identify “superspreaders” and understand behaviours that spread Covid-19.
In Zimbabwe, the Covid-19 genomic sequencing is being conducted at the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory and recently, Government said it had been decentralised to all provinces to ensure effective operations.
Mashonaland West has been the worst hit province under the third wave with Midlands, Harare, Mashonaland Central, Masvingo and Mshonaland East also being hard hit.
President Mnangagwa last week announced enhanced level four lockdown measures seeking to curb the spread of the pandemic.
The national vaccination exercise has also been ramped up to ensure that more citizens get the vaccines and reach herd immunity at a faster pace.