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No need to worry about Covid-19 spike in China but South Africans encouraged to get booster shot

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Globally acclaimed bioinformatics scientist Prof Tulio de Oliveira said South Africans should wait and see and take the booster shot if they are concerned.

University of KwaZulu Natal bioinformatics scientist Prof Tulio de Oliveira has urged South Africans, particularly people with co morbidities, to take the booster vaccine. File Picture

Pretoria – Despite the reported spike in Covid-19 cases in China, a health expert in South Africa believes there is no need for panic, in line with the assurance given by the national Department of Health.

Globally acclaimed bioinformatics scientist Prof Tulio de Oliveira, based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, told broadcaster Newzroom Afrika that at this stage South Africans should just wait and see how the situation unfolds.

“Basically, South Africans should just wait and see here. We do not see a big reason for concern about the cases in China. The reasons for that is based on two main reasons – the first one is that the variant circulating in China is still Omicron and it is a sub-lineage of Omicron similar to the one that caused the wave of infections around May/June in South Africa. It was a very small wave of infections with very low mortality in South Africa,” said De Oliveira.

“The second reason is that South Africa has a very high population immunity, either from vaccination, from previous infection or from hybrid immunity so at the moment we are in a good situation in South Africa.

University of KwaZulu Natal bioinformatics scientist Prof Tulio de Oliveira has urged South Africans, particularly people with co morbidities, to take the booster vaccine. File Picture

“We didn’t see the last wave of the same variant circulating in China causing havoc in South Africa and we have a relatively high population immunity which can increase if people that are susceptible – those at an advanced age or with co-morbidities – take seriously the offer of our health department and accept the booster (vaccine) in the next few weeks,” he said.

The renowned bioinformatics scientist appealed to South Africans to take the booster vaccines, especially people with chronic diseases, and the aged.

“Anyone that has an elderly parent or with co-morbidities such as hypertension or obesity and a are very behind on vaccination, if they are worried about the situation in China, the best suggestion is to go and get the booster.

Earlier this week, the Department of Health said there is no need for panic in South Africa following a spike in Covid-19 cases in China.

National spokesperson for the Department of Health Foster Mohale said they were closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation in China and other parts of the world, and would issue an alert if the country needed to take extra precautions.

“Thus, there is no need for the public to panic. We urge people to vaccinate and get booster shots to enhance their immunity against variants and sub-variants of the pandemic,” Mohale said.

Several countries have since instituted travel restrictions following the surge in cases. To date, the US, South Korea, India, Italy, Japan, Taiwan and Australia have imposed Covid-19 tests for travellers from China.

Some countries are claiming that there has not been enough information from Beijing about the number of cases reported.

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