South Africa urged to avoid panic due to Omicron variant

Pretoria, Nov 29 (Prensa Latina) South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla reiterated today that there is no need to panic over the emergence of the new Omicron variant of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

We want to tell all South Africans that there is absolutely no need to panic, he told in a press conference.

We have been in a similar situation before, this is nothing new, and we now have more than 20 months of experience in terms of Covid-19 waves, he added.

At the moment, said the Minister, our scientists and doctors are working on a daily basis to study particularities of the Omicron variant such as transmissibility, whether there is an increase in re-infection, and whether it affects those who have been vaccinated.

On the other hand, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) revealed to have noticed an increase in the number of new Covid-19 infections among the younger age groups towards the end of the third wave of infections.

The day before, President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasized that the main and most powerful tool currently available against the pandemic is vaccination.

In making the decision not to impose additional health restrictions, he said, the government considered the fact that when we encountered previous waves of infection, vaccines were not widely available in South Africa.

However, he added, that is no longer the case.

Vaccines work, the President insisted, urging South Africans who have not yet been immunized to do so without delay. Vaccines are saving lives, he reaffirmed.

In this regard, the President added, we are looking at introducing measures to make Covid-19 immunization a condition of access to workplaces, public events, general transport and public facilities.

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