New COVID cases in South Africa double in 1 day amid omicron – .

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New COVID cases in South Africa double in 1 day amid omicron – .


JOHANNESBURG – New cases of COVID-19 in South Africa nearly doubled in one day, authorities reported on Wednesday, reporting a dramatic increase in the country where scientists detected the omicron variant last week.
New confirmed cases rose to 8,561 on Wednesday from 4,373 a day earlier, according to official statistics.

Scientists in South Africa have said they are preparing for a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases after the discovery of the new omicron variant.

“It is possible that we are really seeing a serious doubling or tripling of cases as we go along or as the week progresses,” said Dr Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi, regional virologist for the World Organization. of health. Associated Press. “We may see a dramatic increase in the number of identified cases in South Africa. “

South Africa experienced a period of low transmission in early November with an average of 7 days of around 200 new cases per day, but by mid-November new cases started to increase rapidly. The new cases reported Wednesday represent a positivity rate of 16.5% of the cases tested, against 1% in early November.

South Africa’s previous outbreak, driven by the delta variant in June and July, saw daily new cases peaking at over 20,000. With a population of 60 million, South Africa has recorded more than 2.9 million cases of COVID-19, including nearly 90,000 deaths.

It is too early to be certain that the omicron variant is responsible for the increase in cases, but it is very possible, according to experts. Standard PCR tests may suggest that a positive case is caused by omicron, but only complete genetic sequencing can confirm this.

Laboratories in South Africa and Botswana are urgently performing genomic sequencing to study omicron cases to see if it is significantly more transmissible, causes more severe cases of COVID-19, or escapes control. protection against vaccinations, said Gumede-Moeletsi.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are increasing in South Africa, but not at the dramatic rate of new cases.

The omicron variant has been detected in five of South Africa’s nine provinces and accounted for 74% of viral genomes sequenced as of November, the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Wednesday.

The first detection of the variant in South Africa may have occurred on November 8 in Gauteng province, according to data released by the institute. He said that until the end of October, the delta variant represented most of the sequenced genomes in the country, but that in November the omicron variant overtook it.

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Follow all of AP’s stories about the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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