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Home Industry South Africa is Yet to Make Decision on New Variant of Coronavirus, Omicron
Industry - November 28, 2021

South Africa is Yet to Make Decision on New Variant of Coronavirus, Omicron

The WHO designated Omicron or B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern which encouraged countries to boost virus surveillance

On Friday, the World Health Organization named the new, heavily mutated variant of coronavirus discovered in South Africa, Omicron. The new variant of coronavirus has sparked fears of a more transmissible, possibly vaccine-resistant virus and sending shockwaves through global markets as governments worldwide banned travel from the region.

The WHO designated Omicron or B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern which encouraged countries to boost virus surveillance and sequencing efforts, study the variant, and report any cases driven by Omicron to the global health agency.

Scientists are concerned that the new variant of coronavirus may be more transmissible than other strains and capable of evading vaccination immunity due to its large number of mutations, including more than 30 on the spike protein, which many vaccinations enable the immune system to fight.

Health Minister Joe Phaala told local television Enca that South Africa has not yet decided on prospective restrictions to curb a resurgence and spread the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron.

The administration, aware of the implication will deliberate carefully before imposing any restrictions, Phaala said, “If there have to be any restrictions, it will be after very thorough consultation with various stakeholders”. 

He spoke during a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council on Saturday to discuss possible government steps. As Bloomberg has reported, the possibilities being studied are geared to increase the nation’s immunisation rate. Only roughly one-third of individuals in South Africa are properly vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The discovery of Omicron, by South African scientists has raised alarm throughout the world. The United Kingdom is one of the nations placing travel restrictions on South Africa and its neighbours, threatening the country’s tourism industry, which accounts for 7% of GDP. The European Union, the United States, and much of the rest of the globe have followed suit.

READ ALSO: South Africa Outperformed Other African Economies in Q1 2021 – UN

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