COVID-19 Variant of Concern- Omicron (B.1.1.529)

St Helena Government would like to reassure the public that they are continuing to monitor the spread of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron (B.1.1.529).

The Health Services Directorate is taking advice from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) formerly Public Health England. In a recent review of St Helena’s COVID-19 Response, the UKHSA has advised that at this time the Island’s response plans contain robust and effective procedures that help to prevent the risk of community spread. These procedures should not be changed or altered in reaction to the latest COVID-19 variant, however should be monitored and improved where necessary, to ensure we do not become complacent.   

These protocols and procedures are to protect and safeguard the community. Therefore we ask members of the public to continue to do their part by practicing good respiratory and hand hygiene.

We would also like to remind the public that booster vaccines are currently being offered to those people in prioritised categories, these persons will be contacted shortly should they wish to take advantage of this service. 

Working together has played an integral part in keeping St Helena free from community spread of COVID-19.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) met on Friday, 26 November 2021, to classify Omicron (B.1.1.529) as a variant of concern and to issue international advice.  The Omicron variant, was confirmed on Saturday, 27 November, in South Africa, where some of the first cases were detected. Omicron has since been identified in multiple countries, including travel from a number of countries.

Scientists state that the variant is one of concern due to the numerous number of mutations of the virus, however evidence is rapidly changing within this area.  The scientific investigations have also provided evidence that testing for COVID-19 using PCR tests are still effective in detecting the Omicron variant.

The situation and status of COVID-19 is ever evolving, SHG will provide updates when further information becomes available. 

3 December 2021

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470