Her Minister of Health South Africa, Joe Fahla, said during a press conference he gave yesterday Friday that the new variant Ομικρον of the young coronavirus causes resurgence of infections.
“Recent genome sequencing results have revealed that Omicron was the dominant variant between the samples analyzed in late November and early December – 70% (250/358) as of yesterday,” he said.
In the week ended December 4, cases in Hauteng County increased by 415% compared to the previous year, while hospital admissions increased by 204%.
According to the minister, it is not yet clear whether and to what extent the Omicron variant causes a heavier form of COVID-19 compared to others, especially Delta. “Preliminary data show an increase in hospital admissions, but this is probably due to the fact that the number of infections is increasing and not to the fact that it causes a more severe form of the disease,” he added.
Dr. Fahla stressed that the rate of reproduction of the virus (R0), which corresponds to the number of people that a carrier of the virus may infect, is at 2.5. This is the highest level recorded in South Africa since the outbreak of the pandemic.
He also stressed that the first data show that the new variant carries a higher risk of re-infection, ie a new infection 90 days after recovery from a first.
However, in order to draw safe conclusions, “more data is needed, which will be available in the coming days and weeks,” he pointed out.