What is the Delta variant and why was it classified as a variant of concern (VOC)?
Variants are viruses that have changed or mutated. Variants are common with coronaviruses; however,
a SARS-CoV-2 variant becomes a variant of concern (VOC) when its changes have a clinical or public
health significance that affects one or more of:
- transmissibility (spread) OR virulence (severity of disease)
- or change in clinical disease presentation OR
- vaccine effectiveness OR
- diagnostic testing or therapeutics.
- The Delta variant meets the definition of a variant of concern (VOC) as we know that where the Delta
variant is identified, it really rapidly takes off and spreads between people more easily than other variants
identified earlier on. As of 6th July 2021, the Delta variant had been reported in 104 countries worldwide
including Zimbabwe. While it has been shown to have increased transmissibility, more studies are still
under way to determine whether it causes more severe disease (virulent) or has any impact on public
health and social measures (PHSM).
2. How is the delta variant different from other variants we have experienced before?
The Delta variant has shown higher transmissibility (infects people more efficiently than other variants).
Currently data on effectiveness of public health and social measures (PHSM) is still being studied.
PHSMs are measures or actions by individuals, institutions, communities, local and national governments
and international bodies to slow or stop the spread of an infectious disease, such as COVID-19.
3. What are the signs and symptoms of the Delta variant?
Currently the symptoms and signs of the Delta Variant are not that different from other known variants
that cause COVID-19 such as fever, cough, tiredness, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea, headache,
loss of taste or smell, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure
4. Can the current COVID-19 testing methods detect the delta variant?
The current PCR methods are able to detect the Delta variant. We in Zimbabwe were able to detect the
positive samples from Kwekwe and on sequencing they were all Delta positive. The reason is most
diagnostic kits can detect 2 or 3 of gene proteins that are part of the virus. Most of the kits detect what is
called the S protein, so for as long as the S protein is there the PCR kit currently in use in the country
can detect the Delta variant. However, there are PCR kits which are being manufactured which detect
specific variants of concern, directly from PCR without need for sequencing. But currently we do not have
these in the country.
5. Is prevention of delta variant different from the methods we have been using all along?
NO, stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping
rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, covering sneezes and coughs, and more.
6. Are the current vaccines effective against the delta variant?
Vaccines do offer protection against severe disease by the Delta variant; possible reduced protection
against symptomatic disease and infection. Protection offered against severe disease also means
protection against hospitalization and significantly reduced risk of deaths.
7. Why should a person continue observing other preventive measures when they have been
A person who is fully vaccinated may still get infected, and get mild or moderate disease and they
need to protect themselves from the disease.
- A person who is fully vaccinated may also get the virus even though they may not get the disease.
- Whether they get the disease or not the presence of virus in them may pose a hazard to other
unprotected persons around them if they do not practice public health and social measures.
8. How do you manage COVID-19 at home?
If the test result confirms that you have COVID-19
- Continue to strictly observe self-isolation if the health workers who diagnosed you tell you that
you do not need to be admitted to hospital.
- If you are not able to effectively observe self-isolation standards, inform your Village Health
Worker/ Community Health Worker, or health worker who will advise an alternative isolation
centre where you can stay to safeguard your household from risk of getting infected.
- You will have to stay in isolation for 10 days from the day you test positive if you do not have any
- You will have to stay in isolation for 10 days plus an additional 3 days of no symptoms if you have
shown some symptoms on testing.
- Continue to take your other medicines as usual if you have other conditions and get monitored
e.g. for blood pressure control or diabetes control.
- If you develop worsening or new symptoms e.g. fever, persistent dry cough, fatigue, sore throat,
difficulty breathing, diarrhea /vomiting, immediately call 2019, or alert your Village Health Worker/
Community Health Worker / health worker for re-assessment and possible transfer to a health
- Currently there are no specific medicines for curing COVID-19.
- Try and sleep on your stomach most of the time. This may help you breathe better.
9. Is steaming recommended for management of COVID-19?
Steaming is NOT a recommended method to manage COVID-19. However, you are free to do
whatever you believe makes you feel better. You can use remedies such as paracetamol for fever or
pain. Make sure you eat a balanced diet and drink enough fluids.
10. Should you wear double masks for delta variant prevention?
Double masking is not recommended as it has not been shown to offer added protection against any
of the SARS-COV-2 variants.
You can get correct information from trustworthy sources such as health workers, public health
officials, WHO, AFRICA CDC and UNICEF.
You can also use the following platforms to get more information:
Whatsapp hub: Send Hi to +263 714 734 593
Toll free hotlines: 2019 or your local COVID-19 hotline
Ministry of Health and Child Care website, Twitter handle, Facebook page
Zimbabwe COVID-19 Resources:
This factsheet was produced by MoHCC Health Promotion Unit with support from WHO Zimbabwe.