ΠΟΥ-Ν.  Africa: Two new variants of Omicron the cause of Covid's climax

Two new variants of Omicron, whose infectious capacity remains to be determined, are the cause of the new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, the World Health Organization announced today.

“South African scientists who identified Omicron late last year have now cited two other Omicron variants, BA.4 and BA.5, as the cause of an outbreak in South Africa,” said WHO Director-General Tentros. Antanom Gebregesous, at a press conference.

“It’s too early to tell if these new variants could cause more severe forms of the disease than the other Omicron variants,” but initial evidence suggests that vaccines continue to provide strong protection against severe forms of Covid and reduce death risks, he said.

South Africa, officially the worst affected country on the African continent by Covid-19, has entered a new wave of pandemics, the Center for Innovation and Disease Control (CERI) warned in late April.

The country, where at least 45 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated, experienced a 48-hour period without any Covid-related deaths in early March, for the first time since 2020. President Cyril Ramafoza announced the lifting in early April. all the constraints associated with the pandemic.

“The best way to protect the population remains vaccination, as well as social and public health measures that have proven successful,” Tentros said.

The WHO has recorded more than 6.2 million deaths worldwide since the pandemic began. Many estimate that the numbers are much higher.

“Globally, the number of cases and deaths associated with Covid-19 continues to decline, with weekly deaths reported at their lowest level since March 2020,” the WHO chief said.

At the regional level, however, the WHO notes an increase in cases on the African and American continents due to Omicron variants.

Dr. Tentros regretted the reduction of detection activities in some countries, which hinders the monitoring of the evolution of the virus and forces the WHO to deal with the pandemic “blindly”.

“Subtypes BA.4 and BA.5 have been identified because South Africa continues to research the genetic sequence (of the virus), something other countries have stopped doing,” he said.

“In many countries we can not see how the virus is mutating. We do not know what awaits us,” he said.

Source: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ

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