As concerns mount among some surrounding the newly-discovered XBB.1.5 variant of COVID-19, the National Department of Health is weighing its options and is currently engaging scientists on the extent of its spread and presence in the country. The news comes just days after South Africa recorded its first case of the variant.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the XBB.1.5 variant is the most transmissible variant so far in the pandemic and was even nicknamed the “kraken variant” because of its ability to spread so quickly.
THE NEW COVID-19 VARIANT – HOW IS SOUTH AFRICA REACTING?
The Department of Health says it will give an update on the new XBB.1.5 COVID-19 variant in due course, but for now, South Africa is on high alert, in the wake of its discovery. At the same time, citizens have been urged to get themselves vaccinated against the respiratory illness, if they haven’t yet received their shots.
COVID-19 expert Professor Tulio de Oliveria reckons it isn’t a variant that people should be too concerned about, but still recommends that people get vaccinated.
“It is not a new variant of concern. It is part of the Omicron family of lineages which now compares hundreds of different lineages. It is still omicron and emerged towards the end of last year, on the east coast of the U.S, more especially in New York. We are alerted but not concerned. We will continue to do Genomics Surveillance,” he is quoted as having told SABC News recently.