Uganda announced Tuesday that it had detected cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in travellers coming into the country, the first infections to be reported in East Africa.
The cases were detected in people screened at Entebbe International Airport who flew in from five different countries, Ugandan medical authorities said in a statement.
Five had come from Nigeria, two from South Africa — where the variant was first reported — and two from the United Arab Emirates.
The others had travelled from the Netherlands and the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Two weeks after first being identified in South Africa, Omicron has now been found in about 40 countries around the world.
The heavily mutated variant has deepened fears of another deadly wave of infections and signalled that the nearly two-year battle against the pandemic is not over.
Some European governments have reintroduced tough measures, including mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing, while travel restrictions, mostly targeting southern Africa, have also come into force.
Uganda has been spared the worst of the pandemic after imposing some of the first and strictest containment measures on the continent.
The East African country has overall recorded 127,708 infections, of which 3,258 have been fatal, according to the health ministry.
But, as in other countries in the region, inoculation has been slow due in part to hesitancy surrounding the jabs and poor access to vaccines.
The country of 45 million people has vaccinated only 7.6 million people, according to the latest government figures.