Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla
For Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I’m Halima Frost.
Making headlines: Health Minister says scientists working around the clock to understand Omicron variant; Ramaphosa to visit West Africa to build trade and investment relationships; And, political parties welcome unchanged lockdown level
Health Minister says scientists working around the clock to understand Omicron variant
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla said citizens can be confident that in a matter of weeks, perhaps days, the Department of Health’s scientists will have gotten to the bottom of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.
The variant was first discovered in Botswana and South Africa, and scientists have also identified cases in Hong Kong, Australia, Belgium, Italy, the UK, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Israel.
While scientists work around the clock to understand the new variant, the health department is preparing health facilities for the fourth wave.
Phaahla said the detection of the new variant and the reaction of some countries had made this matter of even more public interest to all South Africans.
Epidemiologist Professor Abdool Karim said, based on what the scientists know, they expect that the protection of the current vaccines against severe Covid disease, including hospitalisation, was likely to remain strong.
Ramaphosa to visit West Africa to build trade and investment relationships
President Cyril Ramaphosa will this week undertake a visit to four West African countries to build trade and investment relationships that benefit growth, development and employment in each country.
Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly column to the nation that as the country continues to combat the Covid-19 virus, its focus is also on a sustainable economic recovery.
He will visit Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.
Ramaphosa will be accompanied by a delegation of business people representing sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, construction, consumer goods, renewable energy, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
And, political parties welcome unchanged lockdown level
Political parties have welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to keep the country under a Level 1 lockdown, despite the emergence of a new variant and increasing infection rates.
Commenting on the move, Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen said imposing tighter restrictions would be detrimental to the economy.
He said, as the fourth infection wave approaches, the government should ensure that hospitals are well equipped, provide booster Covid-19 vaccine shots to older people and run proper communication campaigns to dispel myths about vaccinations.
In a statement, the Freedom Front Plus agreed and welcomed the president's decision.
That’s a roundup of news making headlines today
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