Omicron Variant Responsible For Most Of New COVID-19 Cases In South Africa, President Says


Omicron Variant Responsible For Most of New COVID-19 Cases in South Africa, President Says

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 29th November, 2021) Most of the new coronavirus cases in Gauteng, the capital province of South Africa, are associated with the Omicron strain, which is spreading across the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

"The emergence of the Omicron variant and the recent rise in cases have made it clear that we will have to live with this virus for some time to come," Rmaphosa said in a Sunday national address, broadcast on Twitter.

According to the president, most of the COVID-19 cases registered in Gauteng in the past two weeks are of the Omicron variant. He warned that yet another wave of the infection could start in the country and called on South Africans to get vaccinated.

"The emergence of the Omicron variant should be a wake-up call to the world that vaccine inequality cannot be allowed to continue," Ramaphosa stressed.

He called on other countries not to impose travel bans, but to support developing economies in accessing and manufacturing coronavirus vaccines.

South African Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla told Sputnik on Sunday that he is unhappy with travel restrictions that many nations imposed on his country and its neighbours after the emergence of the new Omicron strain.

The Head of Division of Medical Virology at the University of Stellenbosch, Prof. Wolfgang Preiser, told Sputnik that people are advised to continue to take the normal precautions including avoiding close contact, crowded places, confined spaces, maintaining physical distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday that there is not enough data yet to state that the new Omicron strain is more dangerous than Delta, and existing vaccines remain effective.

On Friday, the WHO identified the new South African strain as one of concern, since it may be more transmissible and dangerous. Cases of the new variant have already been confirmed in multiple countries, including Israel, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. Several countries, including South Korea, Oman, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia have suspended travel with southern African countries over the Omicron variant.