South Africa is officially in the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Minister Joe Phaahla made the announcement on Friday morning.

He says while they are still trying to understand the newly discovered Omicron variant, what they have discovered so far is that the variant is highly infectious.

Phaahla has raised concern over the sharp increase in the number of positive cases in Gauteng and he fears that the holiday season may accelerate the variant to spread to other provinces.

Over 11000 new positive cases have been identified in South Africa and over 8 000 of those were in Gauteng alone.

Latest SA COVID-19 stats: 

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“Today as we enter the fourth wave with the new variant, we can see confirmation of this warning. We have moved from a total of 265 new cases last Thursday when this variant was announced, to yesterday’s highs of 11 535. A rise of just over 9000 new cases per day within 7 days,”  says Phaahla.

COVID-19 UPDATE: South Africa’s government coronavirus response and vaccination progress: Phaahla

Phaahla on Omicron variant

Phaahla has also warned that the COVID-19 Omicron variant is highly transmissible, with data showing its presence in all nine provinces.