South Africa’s Health Authorities Detect Second Case Of XBB.1.5 Covid-19 Subvariant
South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases on Wednesday announced that a second case of the highly transmissible Covid-19 subvariant XBB.1.5 has been found in the Western Cape, reported The Daily Maverick. It, however, said that there is currently no data that indicate that the symptoms or severity of the XBB.1.5 variant is different from those caused by other subvariants.
The first case was identified by researchers at Stellenbosch University in the first week of January. As this was found in a random, unidentified sample, no information was available on where the patient came from.
Last week, South Africa’s Health Minister, Dr. Joe Phaahla, said that no new lockdown or regulations relating to Covid-19 would be introduced to respond to XBB.1.5 being found in South Africa.
In related news, South Africa’s health authorities are planning to extend the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to people over the age of 18, before the end of January. The booster had until now been made available to only individuals older than 50.
Dr. Nicholas Crisp, the deputy director-general at the Department of Health, said the government is working to improve the impact of vaccines.
“So, what we do know is that vaccine does stimulate your immunity, it doesn’t protect you 100% from infection, but the response is more about getting protection against severe infection. And our target hasn’t changed if you look at the figures in the last couple of weeks, it’s older people that are getting sick,” Crisp said.
He added that the current outbreak in China is not a major concern, yet. He said the variant that has led to the outbreak in China is from a variant that has already been in circulation in South Africa since August last year.
He said even if people from the east who’ve spent time in China enter South Africa’s territory, infected, they are going to come with a virus that’s already in circulation in the country.