SARS-CoV-2 Is Spreading Rapidly In SA

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SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, continues to spread rapidly amid the second wave of infections in South Africa, pushing the country to more than 1 million confirmed cases. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the number of new cases and deaths has steadily increased across Africa since November. Governments have warned that the continent’s health systems struggle to cope as the number of those admitted to hospital with severe symptoms escalate.

Experts warn that people with milder first illnesses are now showing to have less immunity to reinfection. The new virus appears to have also evolved to transmit around 50 percent faster and get past some antibodies made in response to other virus variants. 

Some studies also show that people infected with the virus three months ago or more may not have total natural immunity if they catch a newer version. According to reports by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, a study of 44 people showed 48 percent of them (21) had no immune response at all to the new variant. This despite having had coronavirus before.

“Coronavirus, like all pathogens, is constantly evolving as it spreads. While most of these changes make no difference to the virus or the way it behaves, some changes do,” says Affinity Health CEO Murray Hewlett. 

“The new virus strain in South Africa, for example, has resulted in quicker transmissions. Scientists predict the coronavirus is may eventually mutate in a way that will make vaccines less effective, but at this point, scientists aren’t yet sure when or how drastic this will be. It could mean that people will be vaccinated every year, as with flu.”

How can you prevent SARS-CoV-2 from spreading to you and your loved ones? Affinity Health recommends the following safety tips:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay at home when you are sick and try and keep a distance from others at home.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

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