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S. African President contracts COVID-19 as infections reach record high

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“Tidal Wave” of Omicron is coming, warns UK PM
UK raises COVID alert level
U.S. COVID-19 deaths top 800,000
Omicron spreads to 63 countries
A cyclist rides past an exhibition of white flags representing Americans who have died of COVID-19 placed over 20 acres of the National Mall in Washington.

SOUTH AFRICA,UK,US,: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is receiving treatment for mild COVID-19 symptoms after testing positive for the viral infection, his office said on Sunday.

President Ramaphosa contracted COVID-19 infection on a day when the country recorded a new high of 37,875 new infections overnight, dramatically up from the previous day’s 17,154 new cases.

“The President started feeling unwell after leaving the State Memorial Service in honour of former Deputy President FW de Klerk in Cape Town earlier, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele said in a statement.

“President Ramaphosa says his own infection serves as a caution to all people in the country to be vaccinated and remain vigilant against exposure,” Gungubele said.

Although all health regulations pertaining to hand hygiene, the wearing of face masks and social distancing were observed at the memorial service, people who were in contact with Ramaphosa on Sunday have been advised to watch for symptoms or to have themselves tested for the COVID-19 infection.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday warned of a looming “tidal wave” of Omicron, and brought forward a target to give over-18s a booster jab by one month to the end of December.

“No-one should be in any doubt: there is a tidal wave of Omicron coming,” he said in a televised address, after the country’s medical advisers raised the Covid Alert Level due to a “rapid increase” in infection from the variant.

Meanwhile, Britain raised its COVID alert level on Sunday in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the virus, as medical authorities warned that hospitalisations are likely to rise sharply over the coming weeks.

The Chief Medical Officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland recommended an increase to alert Level 4 from Level 3 on its 5-point scale, which means they judge transmission of the virus to be high.

“Early evidence shows that Omicron is spreading much faster than Delta and that vaccine protection against symptomatic disease from Omicron is reduced,” the medical officers said in a joint statement.

Meanwhile, The United States has reached the grim milestone of 800,000 deaths related to COVID-19, Agencies reported.

More than 450,000 people in the United States have died after contracting COVID-19 so far in 2021, according to the news service, which added that the total accounts for 57 percent of all US deaths from the illness since the pandemic started.

The 2021 death toll in the US had already surpassed the 2020 total in November. Data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the total number of deaths involving COVID-19 in 2020 was 385,343.

Meanwhile, the Omicron coronavirus variant is more transmissible than the Delta strain and reduces vaccine efficacy but causes less severe symptoms according to early data, the World Health Organization(WHO) said Sunday.

The WHO said Omicron had spread to 63 countries as of December 9. Faster transmission was noted in South Africa, where Delta is less prevalent, and in Britain, where Delta is the dominant strain.


Tuesday, December 14, 2021 – 01:00

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