The NICD said more than 650 sublineages of Omicron have been identified, of which more than 200 have been detected in South Africa.

There was no need for changes to South Africa’s COVID-19 public health response, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said amid concern over the new Omicron subvariant.

The country’s first case caused by the XBB.1.5 subvariant, also known as Kraken, was recorded last week.

Globally, 14 million new coronavirus infections were reported in December, with China, Japan, the United States and Brazil collectively contributing to 70% of these cases.

The NICD said that more than 650 sublineages of Omicron had been identified, of which more than 200 have been detected in South Africa.

Doctor Michelle Groome, head of the NICD’s public health surveillance and response division, said that they were tracking the course of this subvariant’s spread.

“This variant has been detected in many other countries. It wasn’t detected here first, it was detected first in the US. There’re many countries that have detected this variant. As we’ve seen from the past, there’s no way to control them. They will move with the movement of people.”

People are encouraged to get their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.

“Compared to some of the minimal side effects of the vaccine, there’s overwhelming evidence that the vaccines will protect us against severe disease.”

Health Minister Joe Phaahla on Tuesday announced that government was strengthening its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, while provinces will ramp up the rate of testing.

By:Kevin Brandt

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