South Africa Confirms First Case Of Most Transmissible Covid Subvariant

Published 1 year ago
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South Africa’s Department of Health has announced the country’s first case of the new Covid-19 Omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5. The first case of a new Omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5, was first detected last week. In a briefing today, the country’s Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla stated that Japan, USA, Brazil, and South Korea are leading with new infections. The department has been advised to increase the level of testing in the country. However, the country will not impose travel restrictions. Phaahla added that Omicron remains the globe’s dominant variant of concern.

Key facts

Phaahla stated in the briefing held on Zoom today that in December 2022, there was a 25% increase in Covid-19 infections globally.

On Saturday, South Africa’s Department of Health noted that they had been “alerted” about the “highly transmissible XBB.1.5 variant” and is currently in discussions with the scientists to gather more information including its transmissibility and severity.


According to Bloomberg, Maria Van Kerkhove, a Covid-19 technical lead at the World’s Health Organization (WHO), this week called XBB.1.5 “the most transmissible sub-variant” detected so far in the pandemic.

As of now, the Department of Health has said there is no need to impose travel restrictions on any country. According to Phaahla, Morocco is the only country that has banned travelers coming from China.

On January 6, WHO stated that the Omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5, is on the increase and had been identified in more than 25 countries.

WHO was following closely and assessing the risk of this subvariant. “Thus was originally first detected in October 2022,” said Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General. “XBB.1.5 is a recombinant of two BA2 sub-lineages. It is on the increase in Europe and in the US.”