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2nd highest Cases are under age 5: South Africa on Omicron wave

OmicronCredits: The Economic Times

With the concerns rising for the next wave of pandemic due to the Omicron variant, experts in South Africa expressed concern as they witnessed a surge in the cases especially for children under the age of 5. The country reported a total of 16,055 infections and 25 deaths overnight on Friday.

On Friday, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) Dr. Waasila Jassat at a media conference by the Health Ministry said, “We have always seen children not being heavily affected by the Covid epidemic in the past (and) not having many admissions (to hospitals). In the third wave, we saw more admissions in children under five and in teenagers who were 15 to 19”. Now, at the start of this fourth wave, we see quite a sharp increase across all age groups, but particularly in the under-fives.” 

“As expected, the incidence is still lowest in children. However, the incidence in those under five is now second-highest and second only to the incidence in those over 60. The trend that we are seeing now that is different from what we saw before is the particular increase in hospital admissions in children under five years,” Jassat added.

Another doctor from the NICD, Dr. Michelle Groome also suggested that more research would be done to investigate the reasons behind this sudden surge.

Expressing her views, Dr. Groome said, “It is still very early on in the wave. At this stage, it has just started in the younger age groups and we will know more (by) monitoring this age group in the coming weeks. We do just need to highlight the importance of surge preparedness to also include pediatric beds and staff.”

The Gauteng province is the worst hit area under Omicron with up to 80% infections daily. Dr. Ntsakisi Maluleke, an official of the health department in Gauteng province also expressed concern and said, “The phenomenon of younger age groups as well as pregnant women having increased infection is currently being investigated.” 

The South African scientists reported about the strains of new virus Omicron on November 25. However, the number of fatalities are still low in comparison to the Covid-19 upsurge, the government is taking all possible measures to limit the effect as soon as possible.

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