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WHO deploys team in South Africa to tackle Omicron variant

Some 11,500 new infections were registered in the latest daily figures, a sharp rise from the 8,500 cases confirmed the previous day. In contrast, daily infections were averaging between 200 and 300 in mid-November in the country, health officials said.

December 03, 2021 / 08:00 AM IST

The World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed a team of officials to South Africa’s Gauteng province, the epicentre of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, for ramping up surveillance measures and contact tracing efforts as the country grapples with rising infections, an official said.

Some 11,500 new infections were registered in the latest daily figures, a sharp rise from the 8,500 cases confirmed the previous day. In contrast, daily infections were averaging between 200 and 300 in mid-November in the country, health officials said.

Omicron, which was first identified in South Africa exactly a week ago, now has been detected in at least 24 countries around the world, according to the WHO.

We are deploying a surge team in Gauteng province to support surveillance and contact tracing, Dr Salam Gueye, WHO Regional Emergency Director for Africa, said in a media briefing on Thursday, adding that a team is already working in South Africa on genomic sequencing.