Johannesburg, MINA – After scientists in South Africa detected a variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, the country reported an increase in infections soaring from an average of 4.3 percent to 9.1 percent late Friday, local health authorities said.
“About 2,828 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in South Africa, bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to nearly 3 million. This increase represents a 9.1 percent positive rate,” the National Institute for Infectious Diseases (NICD) said in a statement. quoted from Anadolu Agency, Sunday.
The agency also reported 12 more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total deaths to 89,783 deaths.
Gauteng province, which includes the largest city Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, accounts for 77 percent of new COVID-19 infections, the Western Cape resort province accounts for 5 percent and KwaZulu-Natal at 4 percent.
South African scientists announced that the new variant of Omicron has several mutations that can carry the risk of re-infection. The same variant was also detected in Botswana’s neighboring Hong Kong and was first detected on 12-22 November.
Scientists say epidemiological data suggest the continued increase in COVID-19 cases across Gauteng may be driven by the new variant.
According to an infectious disease expert, the new variant was detected in several samples tested in public and private laboratories in Gauteng province.
Several countries around the world have now banned flights from several African countries, such as South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini due to concerns over the new variant.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will set up a National Coronavirus Command Council on Sunday to assess the progress of the pandemic, including scientific updates on newly detected variants.
The Corona Virus National Command Council is one of several government structures that includes the Presidential Coordinating Council and the Cabinet. Scientific evidence and submissions by various economic and social sectors will inform executive decision making. (T/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)