The first case of the COVID-19 sub-variant that is currently dominant in the USA has been confirmed in South Africa.

The XBB.1.5 variant has been detected by Stellenbosch University’s Network for Genomics Surveillance.

The National Department of Health says that they’ve been alerted about the sub-variant which has been described as the most transmissible to date.

The Health department says that they’re currently in discussions with scientists to gather more information about the variant including its transmissibility and severity.

Head of a genomics sequencing at Stellenbosch university, Tulio de Oliveira confirmed the case on twitter a short while ago. He said, no hospitalisations or deaths have been seen in South Africa thus far.

The XBB.1.5 is yet another offshoot of the globally-dominant Omicron Covid variant.

“We do not expect any big repercussion to South Africa the reason for that being that South Africa has a very high population immunity, and at the moment a very low transmission, low hospitalisation and very low deaths. We think that South Africa is very unlikely to suffer a big wave of infection,” confirmed the Professor.

According to the World Health Organisation, symptoms of this sub-variant are similar to those of previous Omicron strains, where most people experience flu-like symptoms. XBB.1.5 is currently the dominant strain in the US and has been detected in at least 28 other countries. The Department of Health has again appealed to people to vaccinate, get boosters and observe non pharmaceutical interventions.

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