The National Coronavirus Command Council meeting which was earlier announced as scheduled for Sunday, 28 November 2021, has been brought forward to Saturday, 27 November 2021, the Presidency has announced.
The Council will assess developments in the Covid-19 pandemic, including scientific updates around the newly detected coronavirus variant, which has been named Omicron by the World Health Organisation.
“The outcomes of this meeting will give direction as to whether further consultation is required at the level of the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC).”
The Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, also wished Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi a speedy recovery after he tested positive for the Covid-19.
Motsoaledi “remains in good health”, said the Presidency, and is currently in self-isolation.
“Government urges all South Africans to vaccinate and to remain disciplined in applying the known safety measures, to ensure a safe and joyful festive season with families and friends.”
WHO names new variant Omicron
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday assigned the Greek letter Omicron to the newly identified Covid-19 variant and has classified it has a variant of concern.
The B.1.1.529 variant, with at least 10 mutations, was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021, with the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.
According to the WHO, preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other variants of concern.
“Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage,” said the WHO in a statement on Friday.