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New Covid variant spreading faster than expected, health expert warns as fifth wave begins


A health expert said that as Covid-19 infections rose, the impending influenza season would superimpose on the fifth wave.

Picture:Doctor Ngcobo/African News AgencyANA)

AS COVID-19 cases continue to rise steadily in the country and the fifth wave has begun, a health expert at UKZN says the new variant is spreading faster than Omicron.

In the past 24 hours the country recorded a 25% positivity rate in infections.

More than 50% of the 5,486 cases were recorded in Gauteng.

KZN, which has the lowest vaccination rate of the nine provinces, recorded 1,452 new cases.

Dr Ozayr Mahomed, a public health medicine specialist at UKZN, said the country should brace for a high number of infections as the fifth wave of Covid-19 had started.

“According to Professor Abdul Karim, the fifth wave will be driven a new variant, Pi, that will spread faster than Omicron and infect more people quicker.

“We are also faced with the impending influenza season that will superimpose on this wave.”

Mahomed said that although vaccinations would not completely prevent disease, it would reduce severe disease and remained the best ammunition.

“A concerted call goes out to all eligible people to vaccinate and encourage others to do so. This will reduce hospitalisations and the economic impact.”

He added that as the numbers increased and the disease spreads, people who were experiencing symptoms should self-isolate as soon as possible in order to prevent transmission.

“With the increasing numbers, it will be necessary to don masks in indoor spaces and improve ventilation.”

Since the start of the pandemic 100,523 people have died and more than 35 million vaccines have been administered.

More than 56% of females, compared to 43% of males, have been vaccinated.

The country has vaccinated only 45% of the entire adult population of 39.7 million people.

KZN has vaccinated only 38% of it’s population while the Western Cape, Free State and Limpopo have vaccinated more than 50%.

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