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Tuesday, 30 April 2024 21:04

Health Department warns against fake Covid-19 variant news.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Department of Health says it has noted with concern old and fake news about the Covid-19 Omicron XBB variant circulating on social media.

"This is a misleading message which first resurfaced during the peak of the pandemic without a traceable source," said department spokesperson, Foster Mohale.

He said Covid remains circulating at relatively low levels around the country just like in other parts of the world.

"Thus, there is no need for public to panic because many people have developed some level of immunity from both vaccine and infections. The current strain or variant in circulation is less severe and less transmissible," Mohale said.

Mohale said taking protective measures, including non-pharmaceutical interventions including hand hygiene, will help to prevent the spread of other respiratory infections including influenza.

The department will keep the public abreast as and when there is a surge in cases of illness caused by any virus of concern or outbreak of any disease.

"We urge members of the public to be vigilant and ignore this malicious social media content whose intent is to cause unnecessary panic and confusion, especially as the country is entering influenza season, "Mohale said.

Mohale added, that the department was working with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and scientists to continue to monitor all Covid-19 lineages.

Meanwhile NICD, which monitors the circulation of respiratory viruses throughout the country, has notified the department that it is currently the peak season of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which some can confuse for COVID-19 due to common symptoms. 

RSV causes illness mainly in young children but may also contribute to respiratory disease in older people.

The flu season is expected to start in the next few weeks and the department is advising those at high risk of contracting the virus to get the flu vaccine to prevent severe health complications. 

Groups at high risk include the elderly who are over 65 years old, those with underlying illnesses such as heart and lung disease, people living with HIV and tuberculosis, as well as pregnant people.