Capital Hill is working on establishing the possible existence of a Covid 19 variant in the country after some expatriates who recently came in from India test positive for the disease.
The expats are part of a group of 60 Indian nationals that come into the country annually to assist in operating advanced production machinery at Salima Sugar Company.
Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has disclosed that samples taken from the cohort have already been sent to South Africa to establish whether or not they are carrying the Covid 19 variant.
“We have sent the some of the samples to South Africa so that the CDC(Centre for Disease Control) Africa laboratory can help us with the sequencing of the samples, so that we know which variant is prevailing there in Salima,” Chiponda explained.
According to the World Health Organisation, a new variant has emerged in India.
It has been dubbed by some as the “double mutant” because of two key mutations on the spike of the virus.
The number of new cases in that country currently exceeds 300,000 with deaths at more than 3000.
On the fears that the Salima matter has brought, Chiponda has assured the public that as government there will work on ensuring that the situation is contained.
“We are already worried with what is happening in India, as a country we cannot afford to have that situation because we cannot cope, that is why we are trying to be very vigilant,” stressed Chiponda.
Following Chiponda’s visit to the factory in Salima, a few changes have been made.
About 40 of the expatriates who have had been tested are to be in isolation.
“So all our technicians are on quarantine, she(Chiponda) instructed that they should be on quarantine for 14 days so as of now we are just implementing the directive we are working hand in hand with our colleagues from the Salima district health office,” said Salima Sugar Company Secretary Charles Thupi.
However, the there are fears that the development may also affect the company’s production schedule.
“For us as a company, I think it may affect the production in terms of the commencement date, we had planned that we wanted to start production between the 10th and 15th May. But most likely it will not happen. So affecting of production has a multiplier effect on several fronts, you look at jobs of daily labourers and also the supply chain will be affected,” Thupi lamented.
Meanwhile, health authorities will be waiting for the results of the sequenced sample that have been sent abroad.