WHO says surge in COVID-19 cases in Africa fueled by Omicron sub-variants
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday warned that Africa is experiencing an increase in reported COVID-19 cases driven by Omicron sub-variants despite a global decline in reported cases and deaths.
"The South African scientists who identified Omicron late last year have now reported two more Omicron sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, as the reason for a spike in cases in South Africa," WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press briefing.
South Africa has reported more than 3.7 million COVID-19 cases and more than 100,000 deaths since the pandemic.
The BA.4 sub-variant was first identified in January while the BA.5 sub-variant was identified in late February.
WHO chief, however, said it was too early to draw conclusions about the strength and effects of the sub-variants.
"It's too soon to know whether these new sub-variants can cause more severe disease than other Omicron sub-variants, but early data suggests vaccination remains protective against severe disease and death."
This, he added, was also a clear sign that the pandemic was still a threat to the world and testing and sequencing remained essential to fighting the virus.
"We urge all countries to address these bottlenecks to provide protection to their populations," WHO chief noted.