'No cause for concern' as SA records Omicron sublineages

'No cause for concern' as SA records Omicron sublineages

South African scientists are monitoring the emergence of two new sublineages of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

'No cause for concern' as SA records Omicron sublineages BA.4 and BA.5
Twitter/Tulio de Oliverio

The BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages were first detected in parts of the country some two weeks ago.

This includes Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Both strains have also been detected in Botswana, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and the U.K.  

According to Tulio de Oliveira, director at Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (Krisp), the two sublineages are responsible for an increasing share of sequenced cases in SA since early March.

Despite the visible trend, de Oliveira says BA.4 and BA.5 are not causing a spike in infections, hospitalisations and deaths in the country.

"Every week that we have sequenced in these two weeks, we've seen this BA.4 and BA.5 at high prevalence in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. However, we have seen that before with the BA.2 that can increase prevalence up to 100% of the genomes without necessarily causing a new wave or a high number of hospitalisations or deaths.

"We still don't have any concern," says de Oliveira.

With the winter season fast approaching, de Oliveira warns respiratory infections would be on the rise.

"We expect that we're going to have a number of respiratory infections, not necessarily from Covid.

"That's expected because the weather is cold, and people tend to be more inside and not open windows because it's cold. That's common," de Oliveira says.

He adds the best line of defence is still the vaccine, including flu shots.


Listen to more news from Jacaranda
Jacaranda FM

Show's Stories