JOHANNESBURG (AP) – The COVID-19 increase in South Africa took the country to more than 1 million confirmed cases on Sunday and President Cyril Ramaphosa convened an emergency meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council.
The country’s new variant of the coronavirus, 501.V2, is more contagious and has quickly become dominant in many areas of the revival, according to experts.
As South Africa’s hospitals reach capacity and no sign of the new boom peaks, Ramaphosa is expected to return to restrictive measures to slow the spread of the disease.
“We are not helpless towards this variant,” said dr. Richard Lessells, a specialist in infectious diseases, told The Associated Press. “We can change our behavior to give the virus less spread.” He said it is most important to avoid contact with others in indoor enclosed spaces.
On Sunday evening, South Africa announced a cumulative total of 1 004 431 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That counts 26,735 deaths in a country of 60 million people.
“One million cases is a serious milestone, but the actual number of cases and deaths is almost certainly much higher,” Lessells said.
“We have seen the new variant spread rapidly,” he said, pointing out that genomic sequences indicate that it has become dominant in the coastal provinces of the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. It is not yet certain whether the variant is so prevalent in the province of Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and is the country with the largest population.
“When people return from holidays in coastal areas, we can expect them to bring the variant along,” Lessells said. “We can also expect travelers to take the variant with them across borders to other African countries.”
The mutation of the COVID-19 virus has caused it to bind more efficiently to cells in our bodies, experts say.
Vaccinations have not yet reached South Africa, although Ramaphosa said he expects 10% of the country’s 60 million people to be vaccinated in the first months of 2021.
South Africa’s seven – day moving average of daily new cases has almost doubled in the past two weeks, from 10.24 new cases per 100,000 people on 12 December to 19.86 new cases per 100,000 people on 26 December. The number of deaths has also almost doubled with the seven-day average daily deaths in South Africa, rising over the past two weeks from 0.25 deaths per 100,000 people on December 12 to 0.48 deaths per 100,000 people on December 26. .