According to health officials, omicron, a new form of coronavirus, is now dominant in South Africa and is causing a rapid increase in new infections.
According to the latest data regarding total daily infections, about 8.5 thousand new cases of Kovid were registered. This figure is almost double from the 4.3 thousand cases confirmed a day earlier.
A few weeks ago, in mid-November, an average of 200 to 300 recorded infections per day.
The Omicron variant has been attracting the attention of experts because of the number and diversity of genetic mutations. However, there are still many questions about the new version – such as how severe it causes infections and whether it will be able to survive the effects of the vaccines currently in use.
The WHO classifies omicron as a “type of concern” and states that preliminary evidence suggest there is a high risk of re-infection.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the variant has already been detected in at least 24 countries around the world.
South Africa was the first country to detect the new highly mutated variant. South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said last month that more than 70% of all virus genomes belonged to the new strain.
India, Ghana, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are among the latest countries to have confirmed their first cases of this type. Other countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany, have also identified people infected with the new variant. in Brazil, At least three cases related to the new version have already been confirmed,
In that context, experts expect the rate of new infections to rise in this fourth wave of COVID-19 in South Africa, and the national health department says there has also been a slight increase in hospitalizations.
For BBC health correspondent Nick Trigger, it is still difficult to say what this means for the rest of the world, given that there is a wave in South Africa driven by another version (beta) that has not followed elsewhere.
Salim Abdul Karim, an epidemiologist with the Africa Task Force for Coronavirus, says that, with beta and delta variants, the full picture in South Africa will not be clear until “people are so sick that they have to go to hospital”, which That’s usually “three, four weeks later”.
“But the response we’re getting is that there aren’t really any warning signs – we’re not seeing anything dramatically different, what we’re seeing is what we’re used to,” he told the BBC. Told the Newsday program.
Scientists and officials around the world are paying attention to what is happening in southern Africa, trying to understand the features and potential impacts of the new variant.
The South African doctor who first identified the new omicron version of the coronavirus, Angelique Coetzee, said so far infected patients have shown “Extremely mild symptoms” But explained that more time is needed to assess the impact on vulnerable people.
Experts have been warning that there are still not enough ingredients to determine whether the new version causes a more or less severe infection.
On Wednesday (December 1), the WHO’s technical leader for COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, highlighted that it is still too early to understand the merits of the variant and that the unit is evaluating the data being sent daily by different countries. Still working.
Van Kerkhove said there is evidence that stress may be more transmitted, but more studies are needed to be sure.
“We expect to have more information about transmission in a few days, not necessarily weeks,” he said.
The expert also refrained from commenting on the severity level of the variant due to paucity of data.
“We have seen reports of omicron cases ranging from mild disease to severe disease. There is some indication that some patients are getting mild disease (…), but again, it is still early.”
According to the NICD, most people hospitalized in South Africa have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
There is no shortage of vaccines in the country, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for more people to be vaccinated, saying it is the best way to fight the virus.
About 24% of South Africans have already been fully vaccinated – far higher than the 6% average recorded on the African continent in October, but well below the latest European average of 54%.
In recent days, countries around the world have restricted travel from southern Africa as details of the spread emerged.
This prompted South Africa’s foreign ministry to complain that it was being punished for discovering the version – rather than commended.
Ramaphosa said he was “deeply disappointed” by the travel restrictions, which he described as unfair.
The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also warned that the measures were punishing southern Africa.
On Friday (11/26) Brazil announced the closure of flights from six countries in southern Africa. And the United States, Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom are among those that announced a series of restrictions on travel and flights from places that already have confirmed cases of infection by this new type of coronavirus.
Watched our new videos on youtube, Subscribe to our channel!