Georgia’s health minister and the head of the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) have highlighted the effects of the booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, as the number of the Omicron variant of the virus is on the rise in the country.
The government’s Coordination Council, designated to address challenges of and responses to the virus in Georgia, has urged the public to receive their vaccine doses as the Omicron strain is observed to be reaching the number of about 1,200 cases.
Deputy Minister of Health Tamar Gabunia said the data of the latest confirmed Omicron cases supported the importance of citizens receiving their jabs in order to avoid the variant, hospitalisation and severe cases.
I would like to highlight the necessity of the booster dose, which almost doubles the vaccination effect and protection against the virus,” she said.
Despite the increase in the number of confirmed new cases, the burden on the healthcare system has not increased, with health professionals citing milder symptoms of the new virus strand - with a reduced need of hospitalisation - as the reason.
NCDC head Amiran Gamkrelidze said healthcare workers had the capability to identify the Omicron variant cases in the western cities of Kutaisi and Batumi, in addition to the Lugar Lab in capital Tbilisi in the east of the country. As of January 17, a total of 1,254 Omicron cases have been confirmed in Georgia.
Out of these 1,254 cases, only 14 were sent for stationary treatment. One of the main recommendations [against the virus strand] is ‘boosterisation’,” Gamkrelidze said in his latest update on virus data.
A total of 40 online clinics are set to be added to the existing 62 to provide services to Covid patients, health minister Gabunia also revealed, with the move aimed at easing the process of communication between health professionals and their patients.
Changes to the isolation and quarantine periods also come into effect in the country starting this week, with quarantine period terms for asymptomatic and mild patients reduced to 8 days, while moderate and severe cases will require a timeframe of 10 days. In both cases, the requirement of wearing a face mask for the 5 days after the isolation is discontinued.
A total of 1,006,864 cases of coronavirus have been registered in Georgia since February 26, 2020, with 934,667 out of 1,006,864 patients recovering, and 14,512 deaths from various strands of the virus recorded to date.
The Coordination Council has again called on citizens to be actively involved in the vaccination process, wear face masks and maintain social distancing. The government’s vaccination promotion campaign will also continue through the end of January, with the age limit for qualifying for the initiative lowered. Citizens over 50 will receive a one-time bonus of 200 GEL (about $64/€56) if they receive their Covid-19 vaccine jabs.