The Omicron variant appears capable of circumventing some immunity, but vaccines should still offer protection against serious diseases, according to the latest data from South Africa, where it is rapidly overtaking Delta to become the dominant variant.
Omicron, which has sparked global fears of a surge in infections, was first detected in southern Africa last week and has prompted governments on all continents to impose https: //www.reuters travel restrictions. com / world / us-tightens-covid-19 -travel-rules-countries-race-quell-omicron-danger-2021-12-01 and take other steps to try to contain it.
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The new variant has been detected in five of the nine South African provinces and is likely to be present throughout the country, the latest official report showed on Wednesday.
The daily number of reported cases doubled to 8,561. It was not known how many of them were Omicron as not all test samples are subject to genomic sequencing, but an official submission said that Omicron was “rapidly becoming the dominant variant.”
Omicron accounted for 74% of the 249 virus genomes sequenced in South Africa in November, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), which is collecting data as part of a larger national network for genomic surveillance.
South Africa performs genome sequencing on only a small proportion of the total samples collected each week. The NICD did not provide a total number of confirmed cases of Omicron infection.
“(The) mutation profile and epidemiological picture suggest that Omicron is capable of bypassing some of our immune protection (to cause infection), but protection against serious disease and death from vaccines should be less affected,” the latest report said. of the surveillance network. .
The first sample in which the variant was detected was collected on November 8 in Gauteng, the most populous province in South Africa, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located.
Since then, it has been detected in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga, and the Western Cape.
The party is over
Previously, organizers stopped a youth music festival after 36 people tested positive for COVID-19 at the site.
The Ballito Rage music festival kicked off on Tuesday in the town of Ballito, north of Durban, on the east coast of South Africa. Of the 940 people who tested for COVID during the first eight hours of the event, 32 guests and four staff members tested positive.
It was not known if all 36 were infected with Omicron or another variant.
The Delta variant fueled South Africa’s third wave of infections, which peaked at more than 26,000 cases per day in early July.
Since the start of the pandemic, the country has reported close to 3 million infections and more than 89,000 deaths, the majority on the African continent.