The new B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19 has been identified in several areas in South Africa –there are also cases in Hong Kong and Botswana.
The Department of Health has warned that the so-called “super variant” of COVID-19 which has been detected in South Africa will likely be the driving force behind the spike in COVID-19 infections over the coming weeks – but which areas have been identified as hotspots in the country?
For now, research into the new B.1.1.529 variant is still being conducted by scientists, including UK health authorities after recently announcing that South Africa and surrounding countries have been placed on its infamous travel red list.
With Gauteng emerging as the epicentre of the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases once again, it’s no surprise that the province has recorded the most number of infections from the B.1.1.529 variant.
While Johannesburg and Tshwane were both considered hotspots for the previous waves, for now focus is on the capital. Qbuh such as Pretoria West, Atteridgeville, Centurion, Hatfield, and Soshanguve identified as a cause for concern.
But it’s not just Gauteng – according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the North West and Limpopo are also seeing an increase in cases of the new variant. The NICD’s Dr Michelle Groome says that provincial health authorities remain on high alert and are prioritising the sequencing of COVID-19 positive samples.
Groome has emphasised that regardless of the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, the importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions remains unchanged and the public should remember to apply them. “This means that individuals should get vaccinated, wear masks, practice healthy hand hygiene, maintain social distancing, and gather in well ventilated spaces,” Dr Groome said.