Africa, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Another South African minister tests COVID positive amid new variant

Many countries have imposed travel bans on southern African nations over fears of new variant

Hassan Isilow   | 29.11.2021
Another South African minister tests COVID positive amid new variant

JOHANNESBURG

South Africa’s social development minister tested positive for COVID-19, the second Cabinet minister recently to report infection with the virus, the government announced on Monday.

Lindiwe Zulu’s test result has come positive in the wake of the detection of the new variant omicron, which the World Health Organization has declared a “variant of concern”.

“It all started with a scratchy throat and I didn’t suspect anything, but when it persisted, I took the COVID-19 test yesterday (Sunday) and received the results this morning,” Zulu was quoted as saying in a statement by the government.

The fully vaccinated minister said she is feeling well and currently isolating at home.

On Saturday, Home Affairs Minister Motsoaledi went into self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.

South Africa has reported a rise in infections with the positivity rate jumping from the weekly average of 4.3% to a 9.8% on Sunday, health authorities said.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases reported 2,858 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total number to 2.96 million.

With six more coronavirus-related deaths reported, total fatalities rose to 89,797.

Last week, South African scientists announced they had discovered the omicron variant, which has several mutations that may carry the risk of reinfection.

The same variant was also detected in neighboring Botswana, as well as Hong Kong, and was first detected between Nov. 12-22.

Scientists said epidemiological data suggest that the sustained increase in COVID-19 cases across Gauteng was possibly fueled by the new variant.

Many countries have imposed travel bans on South Africa and other five southern African nations over fears of the new variant.

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