2 Omicron sub-variants causing Covid-19 spike in South Africa: WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "This is another sign that the pandemic is not done with us."

Alfie Kwa | May 05, 2022, 02:47 PM

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Two new Omicron sub-variants are causing a spike in cases in South Africa.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa has been on the rise over the past two weeks, with 32, 236 cases reported in the week of Apr. 25.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press conference on Wednesday (May 4) that the new sub-variants are "another sign that the pandemic is not done with us".

New sub-variants

The South African scientists that reported Omicron last year have reported two new Omicorn sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, which WHO said is the reason for the spike in cases in South Africa.

"It's too soon to know if these new sub-variants can cause more severe diseases than other Omicron sub-variants," Tedros said.

He did add that "early data suggest vaccinations remain protective against severe diseases and death".

Along with vaccinations, tried and tested public health and social measures will be the "best way" to protect people from the virus.

Praised South Africa

During the press conference, Abdi Mahamud (WHO's Incident Manager) and Tedros both praised South Africa for their continued efforts in Covid-19 testing and sequencing.

The new sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, were identified because "South Africa is doing the vital genetic sequencing".

Tedros added:

"In many countries, we are essentially blind to how the virus is mutating. We don't know what's coming next."

"We know very well it's just a matter of time before these variants replace each other as they try to compete," Abdi said.

WHO recorded more than 6.2 million Covid-19 deaths globally since the start of the pandemic.

The number of reported cases and deaths has been on a decline.

However, Tedros warned that "these trends, while welcome, don't tell the full story".

He added that because of Omicron, the reported cases were increasing in America and Africa.

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Photo by Steven Cornfield on Unsplash.