Tuesday, 12 April 2022 09:30

Two new Omicron sublineages discovered by SA scientists.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Tulio de Oliveira, who runs gene-sequencing institutions in South Africa, says that scientists in the country have discovered two new sublineages of the omicron coronavirus variant.

The lineages have been named BA.4 and BA.5, he said by text message and in a series of tweets.

Still, de Oliveira said, the lineages have not caused a spike in infections in South Africa and have been found in samples from a number of countries, Bloomberg reported.

"Given the very low infections, hospitalisations and deaths in South Africa we are alerted about the continued evolution but not concerned," de Oliveira, said by text message. "All of the laboratory science on virus neutralisation and vaccines are already under way and we are strengthening genomic surveillance."

South Africa and Botswana were the first to discover omicron in November and South Africa was the first country to be hit by a wave of infections caused by the strain. Hospitalisations and deaths were a fraction of those caused by the delta variant even as daily cases hit a record in December.

South Africa meanwhile has administered 34,146,981 vaccine doses with 5,845 administered on Monday.

The figure includes 8,333,395 Johnson & Johnson vaccines and 25,813,586 Pfizer vaccines administered to date in South Africa.

The number of people who were fully vaccinated in the last 24 hours is 1,967, and this includes 867 Johnson & Johnson and 801 Pfizer vaccines.

The NICD noted that 11,154 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, with 553 new cases, which represents a 5.0% positivity rate.

The Department of Health reported two deaths; of which one occurred in the past 24–48 hrs. Total fatalities are 100,098 to date, it said.

The majority of new cases are from Gauteng Province (50%), followed by Western Cape (18%). KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 17%; Mpumalanga accounted for 5%; Eastern Cape and Limpopo each accounted for 3%.