Covid-19 cases in South Africa have nearly quadrupled in the past four days, underscoring concerns from experts about how contagious the new variant of the Ômicron coronavirus could be.
This Friday (3), South Africa registered 16,055 new cases of Covid-19, compared to 4,373 reported on Tuesday (12/30).
As a result, more than 3 million South Africans have been infected since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data released by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in the country.
On Thursday (2), the NICD also reported that some of the new cases were from people who had already caught Covid-19 but were re-infected with the Ômicron variant.
“The previous infection used to protect against Delta, but now with Ômicron that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Professor Anne von Gottberg, a microbiologist at the country’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases, said at a news conference this week.
Data from South Africa, however, show that reinfections may be less severe, said Professor Gottberg.
“We believe the disease will be less severe,” said Gottberg. “And that’s what we’re trying to monitor very carefully. And so will those who are vaccinated,” she added, noting that immunizers will continue to help prevent serious illnesses and hospital admissions as cases continue to rise.
The death toll is more stable in comparison, with 25 new Covid-19-related deaths reported in the latest update, the NICD said.
While only a limited number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country are being sequenced, of the 249 cases analyzed in November, 183 were confirmed as being of the Ômicron variant – equivalent to 73% of cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it will send an emergency team to Gauteng province, in the northeast of the country, considered the current epicenter of the new strain outbreak, to help with surveillance, sequencing and contact tracing.
Reference: CNN Brasil
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