cloudyn.png
Friday May 27th, 2022 1:21AM

South Africa in new surge of COVID from versions of omicron

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa is experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases driven by two omicron sub-variants, according to health experts.

For about three weeks the country has seen increasing numbers of new cases and somewhat higher hospitalizations, but not increases in severe cases and deaths, said Professor Marta Nunes, a researcher at Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Analytics at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.

“We're still very early in this increase period, so I don’t want to really call it a wave,” Nunes said. “We are seeing a slight, a small increase in hospitalizations and really very few deaths.”

South Africa's new cases have gone from an average of 300 per day in early April to about 8,000 per day this week. Nunes says the actual number of new cases is probably much higher because the symptoms are mild and many who get sick are not getting tested.

South Africa's new surge is from two variations of omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, which appear to be very much like the original strain of omicron that was first identified in South Africa and Botswana late last year and swept around the globe.

“The majority of new cases are from these two strains. They are still omicron ... but just genomically somewhat different,” said Nunes. The new versions appear to be able to infect people who have immunity from earlier COVID infections and vaccinations but they cause generally mild disease, she said. In South Africa, 45% of adults are fully vaccinated, although about 85% of the population is thought to have some immunity based on past exposure to the virus.

“It looks like the vaccines still protect against severe disease,” Nunes said.

Nunes said that the BA.4 and BA.5 strains of omicron have spread to other countries in southern Africa and a few European countries, but it is too early to tell if they will spread across the globe, as omicron did.

The increase in COVID cases is coming as South Africa is entering the Southern Hemisphere's colder winter months and the country is seeing a rise in cases of flu.

At a COVID testing center in the Chiawelo area of Soweto, many people come in to be tested for COVID, but find out they have flu.

“Now we're in flu season ... so it’s flu versus COVID-19," said Magdeline Matsoso, site manager at the Chiawelo vaccination center. She said people come for testing because they have COVID symptoms.

“When we do the tests, you find that the majority of them, they are negative when it comes to COVID, but they do have flu symptoms,” said Matsoso. "So they get flu treatment and then they go home because the majority is related to flu and not COVID.”

Vuyo Lumkwani was one of those who came to get tested.

“I wasn’t feeling well when I woke up this morning. I woke up with body pains, a headache, blocked (nose), feeling dizzy, so I decided to come here," she said.

"I was terrified about my symptoms because I thought it might be COVID-19, but I told myself that I’d be OK because I have been vaccinated,” said Lumkwani. She said she was relieved to be diagnosed with flu and advised to go home with some medications and rest.

___

AP journalist Sebabatso Mosamo in Johannesburg contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Health, AP World News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
South Africa in new surge of COVID from versions of omicron
Health experts in South Africa say the country is experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases driven by two omicron sub-variants
5:36AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Ukraine says Russia withdraws from Kharkiv, batters east
Ukraine says Russian forces are withdrawing from Ukraine’s second-largest city after weeks of heavy bombardment
4:58AM ( 57 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Astros aim to match team mark of 12 wins in row
Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros try for their 12th straight win Saturday, which would tie the team record
3:37AM ( 2 hours ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Israeli police beat pallbearers at journalist's funeral
Israeli police pushed and beat pallbearers during the funeral for slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, causing them to briefly drop the casket
12:09AM ( 5 hours ago )
EXPLAINER: Why frustration lingers in Okinawa 50 years later
Okinawa on Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of its return to Japan on May 15, 1972, ending 27 years of U.S. rule after one of the bloodiest World War II ground battles was fought on the southern Japanese island
10:02PM ( 7 hours ago )
Biden names envoy to SE Asia bloc, stressing US attention
President Joe Biden says he’s nominating one of his top national security aides to serve as his ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
9:28PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP World News
Ukraine says Russia withdraws from Kharkiv, batters east
Ukraine says Russian forces are withdrawing from Ukraine’s second-largest city after weeks of heavy bombardment
4:58AM ( 57 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Astros aim to match team mark of 12 wins in row
Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros try for their 12th straight win Saturday, which would tie the team record
3:37AM ( 2 hours ago )
Splash Brothers send Warriors to Western Conference Finals
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are cherishing this playoff run a little more given they spent the past two years watching the postseason instead of their familiar position chasing championships
3:03AM ( 2 hours ago )
Ukraine opens first war crimes trial of captured Russian
Journalists packed a small courtroom in Kyiv for the trial of a captured Russian soldier accused of killing a Ukrainian civilian in the early days of the war
3:00AM ( 2 hours ago )
Panthers find their mojo to beat Capitals, reach 2nd round
The Florida Panthers found what made them the NHL's best regular-season team just in time to win the franchise's first playoff series in 26 years
2:57AM ( 2 hours ago )