Prof alim Abdool Karim File picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
Prof alim Abdool Karim File picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

9 010 new Covid-19 cases and 344 more deaths as experts say research on new SA variant must be sped up

By Lou-Anne Daniels, Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Jan 18, 2021

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Cape Town - South Africa has recorded 9 010 new cases and a further 344 Covid-19 related deaths over the past 24 hours, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed on Monday.

Of the deaths recorded on Monday, 91 were from KwaZulu-Natal, 88 from the Western Cape, 66 from the Eastern Cape, 63 from Gauteng 13 from the Northern Cape, 12 from Mpumalanga and 11 from the Free State.

The cumulative number of cases in the country now stands at 1 346 936 and the death toll at 37 449.

Recoveries now stand at 1 117 452 , representing a recovery rate of 83%.

Over the past 24 hours, 39 901 new tests were conducted, bringing the total number of tests carried out since the start of the coronavirus outbreak to 7 653 371, according to Mkhize.

New virus variant spreading faster

World-renowned epidemiologist Professor Salim Abdool Karim said the second wave was no different to the one experienced in the UK, US and other parts of the world. However, the virus had spread faster in most of the coastal areas of the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, he said.

Karim and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize were part of a panel of experts who were discussing the impact of the second wave of the virus on the country.

The panellists were unanimous that research on the impact of the new variant should be accelerated.

According to them, the variant was spreading quickly in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

“There is no evidence that this variant is more severe,” Karim said.

He said that the risk of dying was similar to the risk in the first wave of the virus in the country.

“It is spreading faster. We do not yet have any answer on it. We are still working on it. A date is not yet available,” Karim said.

However, he said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have proved to be 95% effective in dealing with the virus.

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