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Ramaphosa Slams Pandemic ‘Health Apartheid’

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SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa warned against the risk of “health apartheid” as he took aim at travel bans imposed on his country after it detected the new Omicron variant of Covid.

On a visit to Ivory Coast, he said the curbs, which many countries have also applied to countries across southern Africa, were “regrettable, unfair and unscientific”.

“Given that it was our own African scientists who first detected the Omicron variant, it is also a slap in the face of African excellence and expertise,” Ramaphosa said after meeting his Ivorian counterpart Alassane Ouattara.

“These bans will cause untold damage, in particular to travel and tourism industries that sustain businesses and livelihoods in South Africa and the southern African region.”

Meanwhile, the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis along with National Institute of Communicable Diseases said latest findings “provide epidemiological evidence for Omicron’s ability to evade immunity from prior infection”.

Their statement was issued after a group of South African health organisations published a paper on medrxiv.org as a pre-print, meaning the work was not yet certified by peer review.

South Africa’s COVID-19 caseload has jumped by a whopping 8 561 new infections in the past 24 hours, an increase of 16.5% positivity rate.

According to the data contained in the NICD, Gauteng remains the worst-hit province after 6 168 people tested positive, followed by 626 cases in the Western Cape, 476 in KwaZulu-Natal, 375 in Mpumalanga and 356 in the North West.

“The proportion of positive new cases or total new tested today is 16.5% which is higher than yesterday’s 10.7%. The seven-day average is 10.3% today, which is higher than yesterday’s 8.5%,” the NICD said on Wednesday.

In Gauteng, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Ridhwaan Suliman said the seven-day average was up 424% week-on-week, while the case incidence is doubling every 3.5 days.

In addition, he said new admissions peaked by 144% last week or doubled about every six days.

“Remember, hospitalisations lag cases by one to three weeks, and with reporting delays need to wait a week to understand actual hospital admissions for the previous week,” Suliman explained.

The latest cases push the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2 976 613 since the outbreak.

Meanwhile, there are 28 more people who lost their lives to the COVID-19 related complications, bringing the tally to 89 871, while 135 were admitted to hospital in the past 24 hours.

In addition, the Department of Health said it distributed 165 775 new COVID-19 vaccines, of which 32 361 were given to children and 133 414 to over 18s.

This takes the total number of administered doses in the country to 25 782 259, while 14 561 395 adults are now fully jabbed.

In addition, the data shows that 510 255 children aged between 12 and 17 have now received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Globally, as of 1 December 2021, there have been 262 178 403 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5 215 745 deaths, reported to the World Health Organisation.

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