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South African scientists brace for illness wave propelled by Omicron variant

16 7 14
27.11.2021

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — As the world grapples with the emergence of the new highly transmissible variant of COVID-19, worried scientists in South Africa — where Omicron was first identified — are scrambling to combat its lightning spread across the country.

In the space of two weeks, the variant has sent South Africa from a period of low transmission to rapid growth of new confirmed cases. The country’s numbers are still relatively low, with 2,828 new confirmed cases recorded Friday, but Omicron’s speed in infecting young South Africans has alarmed health professionals.

“We’re seeing a marked change in the demographic profile of patients with COVID-19,” Rudo Mathivha, head of the intensive care unit at Soweto’s Baragwanath Hospital, told an online press briefing.

“Young people, in their 20s to just over their late 30s, are coming in with moderate to severe disease, some needing intensive care. About 65 percent are not vaccinated and most of the rest are only half-vaccinated,” said Mathivha. “I’m worried that as the numbers go up, the public health care facilities will become overwhelmed.”

She said urgent preparations are needed to enable public hospitals to cope with a potential large influx of........

© The Times of Israel


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