Namibia confirms presence of COVID-19 variant in genomic sequencing results

A woman (R) waits to be tested for COVID-19 at a mobile facility in Windhoek, capital of Namibia. (Xinhua/Jacobina Mouton)
A woman (R) waits to be tested for COVID-19 at a mobile facility in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. (Xinhua/Jacobina Mouton)

The COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa is now present in Namibia, an official confirmed on Wednesday.

Ben Nangombe, executive director of Namibia’s Health Ministry, made the remarks in an update of the genomic sequencing results for COVID-19 variants in Namibia.

According to Nangombe, the samples sent for tests on genomic sequencing were collected between August 2020 and early February 2021.

“Of the 105 samples submitted for analysis, 81 were successfully sequenced and analyzed. The results were released on March 6. They indicate that there is a diversity of lineages or clades of the virus in Namibia,” he said.

The variant of concern, first identified in South Africa and known as 20H/501Y.V2 or B.1.351, was found in 16 out of 81 samples from ten regions in Namibia, which were isolated between October 2020 and February 2021, according to Nangombe.

“This was the same time this variant was detected in the South African population,” he said.

Nangombe said the genomic sequencing results will push for important policy decisions in Namibia’s COVID-19 response and preparedness, including the selection of vaccines and other medical interventions.

“We will inform the nation of future developments in the COVID-19 response and related interventions,” he said.

To date, Namibia’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stands at 40,451, recoveries at 38,043, and deaths at 448.