South Africa in a new wave of COVID from omicron versions

South Africa in a new wave of COVID from omicron versions

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – South Africa is experiencing an explosion of new COVID-19 cases led by two Omicron subtypes, according to health experts.

For about three weeks, the country has seen rising numbers of new cases and somewhat higher hospitalizations, but no increase in serious cases and deaths, said Professor Marta Nunes, a researcher at Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Analytics at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.

“We are still very early in this growth period, so I do not want to call it a real wave,” Nunes said. “We are seeing a small, small increase in hospitalizations and very few deaths.”

New South African cases have dropped from an average of 300 a day in early April to about 8,000 a day this week. Nunes says the actual number of new cases is probably much higher because the symptoms are mild and many who get sick do not get tested.

The new South African wave comes from two variants of the micron, BA.4 and BA.5, which appear to be very similar to the original micron strain first spotted in South Africa and Botswana late last year and scanned. worldwide.

“The majority of new cases are from these two executives. “They are still small … but just genomically somewhat different,” Nunes said. The new releases appear to be able to infect people who are immune to previous infections and COVID vaccinations, but who generally cause mild illness, he said. In South Africa, 45% of adults are fully vaccinated, although about 85% of the population is thought to have some immunity based on previous exposure to the virus.

“It seems that vaccines still protect against serious diseases,” Nunes said.

Nunes said omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5 have spread to other countries in South Africa and some European countries, but it is too early to say whether they will spread across the globe, as omicron did.

The rise in COVID cases comes as South Africa enters the colder winter months of the Southern Hemisphere and the country sees an increase in flu cases.

At a COVID testing center in the Chiawelo area of ​​Soweto, many people come in for a COVID test but find out they have the flu.

“We are now in the flu season, so it’s the flu against COVID-19,” said Magdeline Matsoso, site manager at the Chiawelo Vaccination Center. He said people come for tests because they have COVID symptoms.

“When we do the tests, you find that most of them are negative when it comes to COVID, but they have flu symptoms,” said Matsoso. “Well, they get flu treatment and then go home because the majority are related to the flu and not COVID.”

Vuyo Lumkwani was one of those who came to take the exam.

“I did not feel well when I woke up this morning. “I woke up with body aches, a headache, a stuffy (nose), dizziness, so I decided to come here,” he said.

“I was terrified of my symptoms because I thought it might be COVID-19, but I told myself I would be fine because I was vaccinated,” Lumkwani said. She said she was relieved she was diagnosed with the flu and was advised to go home with some medication and rest.

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AP journalist Sebabatso Mosamo in Johannesburg contributed.

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