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The number of coronavirus infections in South Africa continues to rise and the country is officially in its fourth wave of the pandemic, according to the nation’s health ministry. 
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 16,366 new infections after 68,703 Covid tests were carried out on Saturday. This represents a positivity rate of 23.8 per cent, slightly down from Friday’s 24.3 per cent.  Ridhwaan Suliman from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research told local news network eNCA that the number of tests could not be taken as a reason for the rapid rise in infections.
“In fact, had we been able to test more people, the rate would have been even higher,” he said. Deputy Health Minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo said the country was officially in its fourth wave and that hospital admissions over the past week showed just 2 per cent of cases were among those who had been vaccinated. “A whopping 98 per cent were not vaccinated,” he said. South Africa ramped up its “Vooma Vaccination” drive over the weekend, opening additional pop-up sites at shopping malls and public transport hubs.
All eyes are on South Africa, which was one of the first countries  to report the new B.1.1.529 Omicron coronavirus variant, classified by the World Health Organization as “worrying.” Experts have said that the next few weeks are crucial to understanding whether the variant poses a severe risk and whether it can sidestep current vaccines.
South African scientists are researching the variant’s behaviour towards vaccines by using live and pseudo viruses created in the laboratory to mirror the constellations of mutations found in Omicron.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday spoke on the phone with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa about the new Omicron coronavirus variant.
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