South Africa Says It Has Fewer than 100 Omicron Cases

South Africa Says It Has Fewer than 100 Omicron Cases

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – South Africa has so far identified fewer than 100 cases of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Chief of Operations at Western Cape Department of Health Saadiq Kariem said.

“Thus far we have detected less than 100 cases of this variant named Omicron infection all in samples from Gauteng. Many more patient samples are being sequenced as we speak, going both back and forward. This means we will likely learn about more cases from earlier in November and possibly also other areas, and we will be able to observe in how far Omicron spreads across time and space", Kariem told Sputnik.

The Head of Division of Medical Virology at the University of Stellenbosch, Prof. Wolfgang Preiser, told Sputnik that the Omicron symptoms are the same as with other coronavirus variants, however, many questions related to the new variant are still being probed.

“As far as one can tell at the moment, the symptoms are the same as with other variants. We do not know whether it does spread faster. This is one of many questions being investigated," Preiser said.

When asked whether any of the existing vaccines protect against it, Preiser said that South Africa was looking into it "right now."

“One can safely assume that even if vaccine efficacy is diminished somewhat, vaccination will still provide good protection against severe disease and death. Now more than ever is the time to get vaccinated if eligible!” Preiser stated.

On Friday, the WHO identified the new South African strain as one of concern, since it may be more transmissible and dangerous.

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