Omicron: Curve of COVID situations pushed by new variant ‘much steeper’ tha…

Omicron: Curve of COVID situations pushed by new variant ‘much steeper’ tha…

A curve of new COVID situations – pushed by the Omicron variant – is “much steeper” than past groups, the director of the Africa Health Research Institute has warned, as South Africa prepares its hospitals for more admissions.

Speaking to Sky News, Professor Willem Hanekom said: “The wave that we are in at the moment is much steeper than the curve was for past groups.”

He said “reinfections seem to be more shared during this wave so far,” which he said “indicates that the virus may resist some aspects of the immunity that we have to protect ourselves”.

Image: Professor Willem Hanekom tells Sky News ‘reinfections seem to be more shared during this wave so far’

Professor Hanekom explained that the profile of Omicron patients “seems to be slightly different,” in that younger people are becoming sick, especially those who have not been vaccinated.

But he said those who have been vaccinated “have been having a milder disease than one would anticipate”.

“So that is probably good news and a reason to go and get vaccinated, because it appears that the vaccine will nevertheless protect against harsh disease and death,” he additional.

South Africa is preparing its hospitals for more admissions as the Omicron variant pushes the country into its fourth wave of COVID-19 situations, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

Daily infections surged last week to more than 16,000 on Friday, up from around 2,300 on Monday.

Mr Ramaphosa said Omicron appeared to explain the majority of new situations in most of the country’s nine provinces.

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“South Africa now has sufficient supplies of vaccines… vaccination is basic for our economic recovery because as more people are vaccinated more areas of economic activity will be opened up,” he said in a weekly newsletter.

Professor Hanekom echoed Mr Ramaphosa’s remarks, saying “virtually all the virus that we have in South Africa is now Omicron.”

He additional: “But it appears as if the disease in those that have been vaccinated is comparatively mild.

“So the message I think that needs to be out there is that if you can get vaccinated, you should get vaccinated.

“This is the best way to protect yourself against harsh disease. So if you have access, for example, to the booster measure, go and get that booster measure.”

Mr Ramaphosa also said South Africa’s government will soon convene the National Coronavirus Command Council to review the state of the pandemic and consider whether further measures are needed to keep people safe.

“We are keeping a close eye on the rates of infection and hospitalisation,” he said.

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