LISTEN | What you need to know about the new Omicron variant
The emergence of a new Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529, named Omicron by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has rattled many people as the world battles an ongoing pandemic.
There are ongoing studies and research globally and in SA by scientists and organisations to find out more about the “variant of concern” in terms of its mutation characteristics, transmissibility and its effect on current vaccines.
General practitioner and member of the ministerial advisory committee on vaccines Dr Angelique Coetzee stated that those with the new Omicron variant showed “extremely mild” symptoms.
She said this is what is known about the new variant:
The discovery of the variant by SA scientists has been pivotal for the country's scientific capabilities, but might prove the opposite for tourism and the economy.
Despite the global recognition, several countries — including the UK, US, Japan, Australia and Rwanda — have instituted travel bans on Southern African states including SA, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The bans were instituted despite the WHO’s advice to the contrary.
Many people and global leaders have criticised the travel ban and called for restrictions to be lifted. President Cyril Ramaphosa called the restrictions “completely unjustified”, adding that the ban on travellers from some Southern African states wasn’t “based on science”.
Gauteng has been labelled the current epicentre of the Omicron variant but infections have been detected in other provinces. Health minister Dr Joe Phaahla has urged South Africans not to panic as the country sees an increased infection rate and looming Covid-19 fourth wave.
South Africans are advised to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols which include vaccination, wearing masks, sanitising and avoiding crowded areas.
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