South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has said that Omicron is driving the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in the country following a five-fold increase in daily infection rates over the last week.
Speaking on the situation, which he says is “concerning,” he explained omicron is dominating new infections in most provinces and nearly a quarter of all Covid samples have now come back positive compared to two weeks ago.
“As the country heads into a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, we are experiencing a rate of infections that we have not seen since the pandemic started,” Mr Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.
Mr. Ramaphosa said authorities have been “preparing hospitals to admit more patients,” and trying to secure medications for the treatment of coronavirus, while scientists are investigating the impact of the new variant.
“As we enter the fourth wave, and as the country gears up for the festive season, the urgent priority is for more people to get vaccinated. Scientific evidence shows that vaccination is the most effective means of preventing the spread of new infections and that vaccines reduce severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” he added.
Stressing on the importance of vaccines, the president said: “South Africa now has sufficient supplies of vaccines, … vaccination is essential for our economic recovery because as more people are vaccinated more areas of economic activity will be opened up.”
Mr. Ramaphosa said they are keeping a “close eye on the rates of infection and hospitalisation.”
The president would convene a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council to review the state of the pandemic and said “this will enable us to take whatever further measures are needed to keep people safe and healthy.”