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South Africa’s COVID-19 cases have quadrupled since Tuesday, with the Omicron variant of concern fuelling the surge

South Africa’s COVID-19 cases have nearly quadrupled in the last four days, underscoring concerns around how contagious the new coronavirus Omicron variant might be as the country enters its fourth wave of the pandemic.

On Friday, South Africa reported on 16,055 new COVID-19 cases, up from 4373 new cases on Tuesday.

Friday’s numbers bring the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases past the three million mark since the start of the pandemic, according to data released by the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

“Today the institute reports 16,055 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3,004,203. This increase represents a 24.3 per cent positivity rate,” Friday’s statement said.

On Thursday, the NICD also revealed that some of the new cases were people who had previously had COVID-19 and had been reinfected with the Omicron variant.

“Previous infection used to protect against Delta but now with Omicron that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Professor Anne von Gottberg, a microbiologist from the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, said during news briefing on Thursday.

“We monitored … reinfections for the Beta and the for the Delta wave, and we didn’t see an increase in reinfections over and above what we expect when the force of infection changes, when the wave stops.

“However, we are seeing an increase for Omicron.”

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