JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa is seeing a spike in new COVID-19 cases fueled by two sub-variants of omicron, health experts said Saturday.
For about three weeks, the country has seen an increase in infections and hospitalizations, but not in severe cases or deaths, Professor Marta Nunes, a researcher at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Analysis unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, said on Saturday. in Soweto.
“It’s still very early in this period of increase, so I’m not really going to call it a wave,” Nunes said. “We’re seeing a small increase in hospitalizations and really very few deaths.”
New cases in South Africa have gone from an average of 300 a day in April to around 8,000 a day this week. Nunes stressed that the true number of new cases is probably much higher because symptoms are so mild and many people who get sick don’t get tested.
The outbreak in South Africa is due to two variations of Omicron: BA.4 and BA.5, which are very similar to the original Omicron variant that was first identified in South Africa and Botswana late last year and spread worldwide .
“Most of the new cases are from those two strains. They are omicron… but somewhat different genomically”, explained Nunes.
The new versions appear to be able to infect people who have immunity from previous COVID infections and vaccinations, but they generally cause mild symptoms, he added.