The new Omicron Covid-19 variant poses a threefold higher risk of reinfection a group of South African health bodies said on Thursday.
The South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA) and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the latest findings “provide epidemiological evidence for Omicron’s ability to evade immunity from prior infection”.
The country was entering its fourth wave of COVID-19 infections due to the Omicron variant, but hospitals were not under threat at this stage, South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said on Friday.
Phaahla told a media briefing that infections with the new variant were now present in seven out of the country’s nine provinces, and hoped that the variant could be managed without causing too many deaths.
He urged South Africans to be fully vaccinated, saying that was the best protection against Omicron.
South Africa had been seeing a sudden spike in daily reported cases of coronavirus with the government reporting 11,535 new infections on Thursday, up from 312 ten days ago.