The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has reported 2 465 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2 952 500.

This increase represents a 6.5% positivity rate. The majority of new cases today are from Gauteng (79%), followed by North West accounting for 5%.

A further 114 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 89 771 to date.

A total of 19 318 050 tests have been conducted in both the public and private sectors.

Earlier, the institute earlier confirmed a new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529.

Twenty-two positive cases of variant B.1.1.529 have been recorded in the country following genomic sequencing collaborations between the NICD and private laboratories.

“It is not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa,” said Prof Adrian Puren, NICD Acting Executive Director.

He added, “Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be. Developments are occurring at a rapid pace and the public has our assurance that we will keep them up to date.”

New coronavirus variant explained: 

COVID VARIANT B11529 on Biteable.

Government’s plans regarding new variant

In a briefing earlier, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the government still needs to meet and decide if there would be any need to restrict movement in the wake of the new COVID-19 variant.

Phaahla said hospital resurgence plans have been activated following his meeting with the country’s health MEC’s today.

“We are still going to have further discussions at various forums including the Coronavirus Council, the cabinet, consultation with Premiers, so it is too early to predict what is going to be the line of action. From the experience of the last 21 months or so, we can almost predict how this is going to move especially as Delta started in Gauteng, you can rest assured as people start to move even more in the next two weeks this will be all over.”

Department of Health briefing on the new variant: