Johannesburg, Dec 3 (EFE).- South Africa is experiencing a fourth wave of coronavirus infections driven by the new Omicron variant, health minister Joseph Phaahla said Friday.
The curve of Covid-19 infections is much steeper than in the previous three waves, the minister warned, but hospitalizations are still under control.
The coronavirus variant Omicron, classified as a variant “of concern” by the World Health Organization, was first detected in South Africa last month and is now present in seven out of the country’s nine provinces.
The health ministry reported on Friday 11,535 new infections in the last 24 hours, a figure significantly higher than those reported during the week.
Between 72 to 80% of infections have been reported in the Gauteng province, South Africa’s most densely populated, according to Phaahla.
Public health specialist, Waasila Jassat, said the fourth wave is causing a higher number of hospital admissions in children under five and urged hospitals’ pediatrics departments to be prepared.
Despite the surge in cases, Phaahla said the country would manage the fourth wave without imposing strict lockdown measures over the Christmas period and urged people to get vaccinated.
Omicron is characterized by a high number of mutations that could lead to increased transmissibility. Scientists are gathering data on the level of contagion and severity of symptoms the variant could cause. EFE