“We’re nonetheless very early on this enhance interval, so I do not need to actually name it a wave,” Nunes mentioned. “We’re seeing a slight, a small enhance in hospitalizations and actually only a few deaths.”
South Africa’s new instances have gone from a median of 300 per day in early April to about 8,000 per day this week. Nunes says the precise variety of new instances might be a lot larger as a result of the signs are delicate and lots of who get sick should not getting examined.
South Africa’s new surge is from two variations of omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, which look like very very similar to the unique pressure of omicron that was first recognized in South Africa and Botswana late final 12 months and swept across the globe.
“Nearly all of new instances are from these two strains. They’re nonetheless omicron … however simply genomically considerably completely different,” mentioned Nunes. The brand new variations seem to have the ability to infect individuals who have immunity from earlier COVID infections and vaccinations however they trigger typically delicate illness, she mentioned. In South Africa, 45% of adults are totally vaccinated, though about 85% of the inhabitants is believed to have some immunity primarily based on previous publicity to the virus.
“It seems to be just like the vaccines nonetheless defend towards extreme illness,” Nunes mentioned.
Nunes mentioned that the BA.4 and BA.5 strains of omicron have unfold to different international locations in southern Africa and some European international locations, however it’s too early to inform if they may unfold throughout the globe, as omicron did.
The rise in COVID instances is coming as South Africa is getting into the Southern Hemisphere’s colder winter months and the nation is seeing an increase in instances of flu.
At a COVID testing heart within the Chiawelo space of Soweto, many individuals are available to be examined for COVID, however discover out they’ve flu.
“Now we’re in flu season … so it is flu versus COVID-19,” mentioned Magdeline Matsoso, website supervisor on the Chiawelo vaccination heart. She mentioned individuals come for testing as a result of they’ve COVID signs.
“After we do the exams, you discover that almost all of them, they’re damaging on the subject of COVID, however they do have flu signs,” mentioned Matsoso. “So that they get flu remedy after which they go residence as a result of the bulk is expounded to flu and never COVID.”
Vuyo Lumkwani was a kind of who got here to get examined.
“I wasn’t feeling effectively once I awakened this morning. I awakened with physique pains, a headache, blocked (nostril), feeling dizzy, so I made a decision to come back right here,” she mentioned.
“I used to be terrified about my signs as a result of I believed it could be COVID-19, however I informed myself that I would be OK as a result of I’ve been vaccinated,” mentioned Lumkwani. She mentioned she was relieved to be identified with flu and suggested to go residence with some drugs and relaxation.
AP journalist Sebabatso Mosamo in Johannesburg contributed.