SAMRC urges caution as over 16,000 new COVID infections recorded

Gauteng still remains the epicentre of the infection rate with more than 11,000 infections reported.

FILE: A health worker conducts a COVID-19 coronavirus molecular test in Parkview, Johannesburg, on 22 October 2020. Picture: LUCA SOLA/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has recorded 16,366 new daily COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hour review cycle.

There are 75,130 active cases reported across the country.

Twenty-one people have succumbed to the virus and the death toll is at 89,965 so far.

Gauteng still remains the epicentre of the infection rate with more than 11,000 infections reported.

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said the country's capital has been thrown into turmoil by the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Figures from the province show a staggering rise in hospitalisations at the Steve Biko Academic and Tswhane District hospitals.

The first cases of Omicron were detected in the Tshwane District and coincided with the sharp rise in new infections signalling the onset of the fourth wave in Gauteng.

The weekly number of cases has mushroomed over several weeks.

The SAMRC's Doctor Fareed Abdullah said a new surge and even a new variant were expected but the speed with which Omicron hit came as a shock.

"Because this is more infectious and the rates are going up so fast, people must be much more careful about masking up."

Abdullah has raised concern over the sharp increase in the number of positive cases in Gauteng, specifically Tshwane.

"It's clear that the virus infections in this fourth wave is faster than the previous waves. But we have not yet seen the increase in deaths."

Abdullah said while they were still trying to understand the Omicron variant, for the most part, it's up to individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones.