Covid-19 in SA | No fear of increased hospitalisations, says expert

South African scientists say a wave of infections from the new coronavirus subvariant is unlikely.

JOHANNESBURG - South African scientists are not expecting a wave of infections from the new coronavirus subvariant.

Professor Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Centre for Epidemic Response & innovation at Stellenbosch University, says that even if prevalence in South Africa were to increase, there's unlikely to be a rise in hospital admissions or deaths.

"As we speak, it has been found in 35 countries around the world. We have over 5,000 genomes of this sublineage of omicron, they're all publically available as the South African also is," said De Oliveira.

READ: Covid-19 in SA | New subvariant being monitored closely

"And from the 5,000 genomes from around the world only one is from South Africa and what we found is that in less than 100 genomes only one, so it's at very low prevalence.

"We do not expect to even if increase the prevalence in South Africa, create in any way a wave of hospitalisations and deaths.

"We know what's circulating in the country but we are not alarmed and we are not concerned that we'll cope with a big wave of infection."

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De Oliveira also said the rise in Covid-19 infections in China should not be a concern to South Africans.

He said that China's tight restrictions have led to weaker population immunity than locally.

But it would be a good time to get that booster shot.

READ: COVID-19 in SA | Expert says no need to panic about latest strain

"We have very high population immunity. We have been exposed in the past year to multiple lineages of omicron and we also have good vaccine coverage in the elderly population," he said.

"What we are pleading for the public and especially from people that are advanced age or comorbidity, it's a great time to get the booster.

"Just make sure that in case this variant, which we don't expect to cause major havoc on the one camp, we can keep as we are in the last year in our normal life with very little restriction or no restrictions."

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