COVID-19 sub-variant not prevalent enough for tight restrictions: NICD

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) executive director professor Adrian Puren says he fully agrees with the way the Health Department is dealing with the newly-discovered sub-variant of the globally dominated Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In his update yesterday, the Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had told the government not to impose COVID-19 travel restrictions at this stage.

It has instead advised that there should be an increase in testing, vaccination and messaging to deal with the high-contagious sub-variant.

The infection rate is rising around the world, with one case already recorded in South Africa.

Professor Puren says he supports the government’s decision to hold off the imposition of COVID-19 restrictions for now.

“I think that is a correct approach, we’ve had lots of experiences around importation and transmissions and I think the restrictions of travel have not been very effective. I think at the moment we have had a large scale of vaccines and given that particular that we have in China and the US the variant is primarily of the Omicron. We will have a high degree of protection in cases of hospitalisation deaths. We should not have that problem in South Africa. Those who are not vaccinated get vaccinated, those who did not get the boosters get the boosters to prevent any poor outcome,” says Puren.

Experts warn against COVID-19 lockdowns:

Renewed vaccine fear amid surge of new COVID-19 variant

Some people in Johannesburg have expressed renewed fear upon news of the new COVID-19 variant, BXX1.5.

This as many opted not to return for their second or booster jabs since the lifting of COVID-19 related restrictions.

However, healthcare workers say they have seen an increase in people coming back to be vaccinated.

Professional nurse Vaccine Site Manager at the Charlotte Maxeke hospital, Grace Sinah says they have been seeing more people coming to get vaccinated over the past few weeks.

“Since December, especially the last few months of December, we have seen a number of people coming for vaccination. I must say when [it] was announced that the masks can be dropped … you saw a little bit of a decline in the number of people [taking the vaccine].”

South Africa doesn’t have to panic over the new COVID-19 variant for now

VARIANT XBB.1.5 by SABC Digital News