South Africa recorded 3 220 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has said on Saturday.
This increase of 3 220 new COVID-19 cases represents a 9.2 % positivity rate.
A further eight COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 89 791 to date.
“The cumulative number of recoveries is 2 847 083.”
The majority of new cases is in Gauteng: 2 629, followed by the Western Cape with 121 new cases and the North West with 116 new cases, KwaZulu-Natal with 110, and the Mpumalanga with 97 new cases provinces.
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The identification of the B.1.1.529 variant, officially named the Omicron variant by the World Health Organization, has got everyone talking.
So why is everyone so worried? And should South Africa really be facing new travel bans from all over the place? Let’s take a look at what the experts know so far and see what exactly they still have to figure out.
On Friday, the World Health organisation’s Technical Advisory Group on all things COVID-19 met. They met for the sole purpose of assessing the B.1.1.529 variant.
By the end of that meeting, the WHO had named the variant the omicron variant. This follows the Delta and Beta variants that were also given Greek names.
The first case of the Omicron variant was from a COVID test that was collected on the 9th of November. South African scientists identified the new variant and first reported the matter to the WHO on the 24th of November.
But what makes Omicron different from other variants? Well, it has a large number of mutations. In fact, a lot more than any of the previous variants seen before.
And based on the science so far, the evidence suggests that there is an increased risk of infection with this particular variant. As a result, the WHO has labelled it a “variant of concern” or VOC.
“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.
Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.”
World Health Organization