The Omicron strain of coronavirus causes milder cases for those who have been inoculated against COVID-19.
However, those who avoid getting inoculated could end up hospitalized, South Africa's Health Minister Joe Phaahla cautioned on Friday.
Phaahla said that South Africa has been at the threshold of the fifth wave of pandemic. "This rise in the infection is very steep, much steeper [than] any other rise of the previous three waves". According to him, the Gauteng Province remains the epicenter of the outbreak of the new Omicron coronavirus strain, but the infection has also been spreading to other parts of the country.
The minister stressed that the new variant is "more transmissible" and added that "we have the opportunity to be vaccinated which provides a major protection against serious illness." Focusing on Omicron's origins, Phaahla stated that the new variant was first discovered in Botswana, but stated that "no one really knows where this variant originated from."