In response to a COVID-19 infection surge in China and the discovery of the first case of the Omicron subvariant, South Africa’s health ministry stated on Tuesday that no new COVID-19 restrictions should be put in place at home or for arrivals.
Joe Phaahla, the country’s health minister, told reporters that due to a high level of immunity, South Africans will not be harmed by the new strain from China.
The minister added that there have been more Covid infections and fatalities in South Africa in recent weeks.
Nevertheless, he stated at a media briefing that the nation would increase Covid testing and relaunch its vaccination campaign in light of the rising infections around the world.
With more than four million coronavirus cases and more than 102,500 fatalities, South Africa, which discovered the first Omicron case in late 2021, has led the world in both numbers. The vaccination rate for those who are eligible is about 48%.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning this week that XBB.1.5, an Omicron family ancestor, is the “most transmissible sub-variant detected to date.”
According to de Oliveira, the sub-variant was discovered on Friday in the southern African nation in a sample taken in late December; however, no “increase in cases, hospitalizations, or deaths” have yet been noted.
About 30 nations have XBB.1.5, but it is most prevalent in Europe and the US, where it is starting to take over. Its specific characteristics are still unknown. However, the WHO asserts that based on the preliminary data, a booster dose of a bivalent vaccine would result in the production of neutralizing antibodies.