A professor for South Africas National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says the susceptibility of the population is greater because previous Covid infection used to protect against Delta -- but now, with the Omicron variant, it doesn't seem to be the case, South Africa News 24 reported.
Professor Anne von Gottberg, a clinical microbiologist and the head of respiratory diseases at the NICD, says the institute believes that vaccines will still protect against severe disease.
Meanwhile, Gottberg said hospitals were seeing and admitting more children for Covid-19.
"Data has shown that children have a less severe clinical course. We've had some anecdotal reports from hospitals in South Africa that say, yes, they are seeing a few more children in some of the hospitals and admitting them. But many of them have an uncomplicated clinical course during the few days that they are admitted," Gottberg said.
"The vaccines have always held out to prevent severe disease, admission to hospital and death. And that's the reason why a final message really about this variant is to consider the basic principles of what we should be doing," said Gottberg, the report added.
Cases are increasing at a rapid rate, Gottberg noted.
On Wednesday, more than 8,000 new cases were reported in South Africa - and she estimated that it would rise to 10,000 per day.
"In all of our provinces, we are seeing an increase in the percentage testing positive for all SARS-CoV-2 tests being done, and we think that the number of cases is going to increase in these provinces," she said, the report added.
While the South African population comprises many who have previously contracted Covid-19, previous infection is not believed to protect against Omicron, she said, as per the report.
"It, however, hopefully provides them with protection against severe disease, hospital admission and death," she said.
"We monitored these reinfections for the Beta and for the Delta wave, and we didn't see an increase in reinfections over and above what we expected when the force of infection changes - when the wave stops. However, we are seeing an increase for Omicron," Gottberg said, as per the report.
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