Covid cases increase five-fold in South Africa; President says emergence of Omicron was inevitable

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Dec 07, 2021, 08:48 AM(IST)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

In a weekly communication, Ramaphosa stated that Omicron looked to be dominating new infections in most provinces and recommended more people to acquire COVID-19 vaccines. 

The President said the number of daily infections has increased five-fold in the past week, with nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 tests now returning positive. Two weeks ago, only two per cent of tests were positive.

President Cyril Ramaphosa warned on Monday that South Africa is preparing its hospitals for additional admissions as the Omicron variant drives the country into a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.

The appearance of the new Omicron form was unavoidable, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who called the increase in infections a "grave concern."

In a weekly communication, Ramaphosa stated that Omicron looked to be dominating new infections in most provinces and recommended more people to acquire COVID-19 vaccines. 

Also read | Omicron acts as a wake-up call for rich nations about vaccine inequality: Experts

The number of daily infections has surged fivefold in the last week, according to the President, with roughly a quarter of all COVID-19 tests now returning positive.

Only 2% of tests were positive only two weeks earlier. 

"While the surge in infections is of great concern, we should remember that we anticipated it. Disease modellers in our country have told us that we would likely experience a fourth wave around this time and that it was almost inevitable that new variants of the virus would emerge, " Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter to the nation on Monday.

"As the country heads into a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, we are experiencing a rate of infections that we have not seen since the pandemic started. The Omicron variant that was brought to global attention by South African scientists nearly two weeks ago appears to be dominating new infections in most provinces, " he said.

Scientists in South Africa and throughout the globe are still working to answer key issues regarding the novel Omicron variation, including its transmissibility, progression, whether it produces more severe illness, and how effective vaccinations will be against it, he added. 

Without waiting for stronger lockdown laws, Ramaphosa advised citizens to be vaccinated and take steps to protect communal safety. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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