South Africa has enhanced its COVID-19 vaccination campaign by giving jabs at pop-up sites in shopping centers and transport hubs.
This is aimed at preventing a rapid rise in new cases, a week after the discovery of the omicron variant in the country.
According to statistics, National infections nearly doubled up to 8,561 Wednesday from 4,373 the previous day.
Gauteng Province Premier, David Makhura said explained, “We are worried about the rapid rise in these numbers, and we want to deal with it as if we are in the fourth wave. Whether technically declared or not, that is how we are responding.
Therefore, we are repurposing the beds; we are preparing the health system. We are going back to the things we have done during the, in the run up to the peak of the first wave, the second wave and the third wave. As you know, the third wave was much higher for us.”
Tests indicate the omicron variant is spreading rapidly and is now in five of South Africa’s nine provinces.
It is not known how many of the new cases are omicron because scientists can only do full genetic sequencing on a small number of the total positive cases.
However, it appears that it is “rapidly becoming the dominant variant,” according to a statement issued by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases which said that 74% of the 249 samples sequenced in November were identified as omicron.
Gauteng Province, the country’s economic hub is the hotspot for infections with more than 70% of the new cases.
Officials say the province is increasing hospital beds and reopening some field hospitals in anticipation of an in increase in covid 19 patients.
“It’s still early days (to determine if omicron variant carries bigger threat of serious illness and death), and I think we need to reserve judgment on that. Certainly, in this early stage, the news does look to be promising.
The great majority of the breakthrough infection, in other words, individuals that have had an infection despite vaccination, is mild. Our hospital surveillance is showing a little bit of an uptick, but certainly nothing as dramatic as we’ve seen in the previous waves. … Professor Barry Schoub, virologist and head of South Africa’s ministerial advisory committee on COVID-19 said.
This week alone, the province has recorded daily vaccinations of at least 50,000.
However, authorities are concerned, about half of the province’s 16 million people remain unvaccinated.