The lowest of a five-tier system of lockdown restrictions known as ‘adjusted level 1’ has been retained by South Africa, in the battle against the Omicron covid-19 variant, health authorities said on Thursday.
The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) “Directed the department to closely monitor the rising COVID-19 infections,” the health department said in a statement, adding that it would also track hospital admissions, mortality and recovery rates.
These factors were all largely driven by the Omicron variant, which was contributing to a fourth wave of infections, it added.
The decision followed the Council’s deliberation on safety measures recommended by the department to avert any surge in infections during the festive period, it said.
In November, South Africa which notified the world to Omicron in the past few days has reported more than 20,000 new daily COVID-19 infections, but its scientists see no sign yet that the variant causes more severe illness.
South Africa is the country worst African country affected by the pandemic in terms of confirmed infections and deaths.
Given its rapid spread, Scientists suspect that Omicron is more transmissible, but say it is too early for definitive conclusions on the severity of the disease it causes.