South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Fahla has said the country can manage the fourth wave of infections driven by the Omicron version without imposing tighter restrictions, as he urged citizens to follow protocol and be fully vaccinated.
“We can manage this fourth wave; we can manage Omicron with the basic tools we all know,” Fahla said.
The Omicron variant, which is expected to increase the number of infections around the world, was first detected in South Africa last month.
“We can still manage it in a way where the government doesn’t have to impose severe restrictions in the next few days, if we all meet our basic duties of safety measures and if more of us are eligible – 12 Everyone from years up – contact the nearest vaccination sites to get our jab,” he said during a media briefing on Friday.
New COVID-19 cases in South Africa have risen from nearly 200 daily in mid-November to more than 16,000 on Friday.
The Omicron variant has more than 50 mutations, and scientists have called it a huge leap forward in the evolution of the virus.
Asked whether strict lockdown measures were in the pipeline amid the rapidly rising rate of infection across the country, the health minister said there would be a meeting in the coming week.
“We just need more than a week to monitor the situation and see what measures need to be taken. At this stage one would not want to pre-empt. There will be a meeting in the coming week And we will see, among other things, a rapid increase (in infections), but we will also see if we need to increase the restrictions from the level where we are,” Fahla offered.
South Africa uses a five-pronged lockdown strategy and is currently at the lowest level.
“While we are saying what the government is going to do, we can all individually and collectively also reduce the level to which regulatory intervention is needed by simply wearing masks and the key is to avoid really large gatherings. , especially indoors,” she explained.
Fahla said of those who have been vaccinated, only a small number of people have become ill, mostly mild cases, while the majority of those admitted to the hospital were not vaccinated.
The minister strongly condemned people for ignoring symptoms and going out in public, thereby putting others at risk.
“People who know if they are positive and then go out for groceries or medicines are very irresponsible. We should condemn this kind of behavior. When you have tested positive or even That if you are in touch (with someone positive); until you have results, you have to stay away from mingling with other people,” he said.