South Africa’s COVID outbreak driven by omicron subvariants, experts say

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A wave of novelties COVID-19[feminine] case threatens South Africa.

Health experts claim that the infections are caused by two subvariants of omicron.

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The BA.4 and BA.5 strains of omicron – which closely resemble the original omicron strain – make up the majority of new cases, according to Professor Marta Nunes, researcher with Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Analytics at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

“The majority of new cases are from these two strains. They’re still omicron…but just genomically somewhat different,” she told The Associated Press, noting that there’s a slight increase in hospitalizations and ” really very few deaths”.

A woman waits in a queue to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing center in Soweto, South Africa, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. South Africa is experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases caused by two subvariants of omicron, according to health experts.
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A woman waits in a queue to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing center in Soweto, South Africa, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. South Africa is experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases caused by two subvariants of omicron, according to health experts.
(AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

The average of new cases has risen from around 300 a day in April to around 8,000 a day in the past week – although experts say the true number of cases is much higher.

The subvariants appear to infect people immune to previous COVID-19 infections and vaccinations, and Nunes said they cause generally mild illness.

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“It seems that vaccines always protect against serious diseases,” she added.

South African authorities said in April a rapid rise in cases was due to BA.4 and Salim Abdool Karim – a public health expert at the University of KwaZulu-Natal – said it was too early to tell. say whether the sub-variant would cause a “full-fledged wave.”

the World Health Organization (WHO) said there was no evidence that BA.4 caused much higher rates of hospitalization or death.

A patient undergoes a nasal swab to check for COVID-19 at a testing center in Soweto, South Africa, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

A patient undergoes a nasal swab to check for COVID-19 at a testing center in Soweto, South Africa, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

The agency said the number of new global cases continued to fall across the world, with the exception of the Americas and Africa.

“The jury is still out on how seasonal this virus will become,” WHO emergencies chief Dr Michael Ryan told reporters earlier this month.

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“If people are crowded into conditions where a new variant is spreading, you’ll see high levels of transmission,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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