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South Africa has announced that a new strain of the Corona virus that causes “Covid 19” is leading to an outbreak of the disease currently in the country, which is witnessing higher numbers of confirmed infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

The new strain, known as “501 P2”, is prevalent among new confirmed infections in South Africa, according to health officials and scientists who are leading the country’s virus control strategy.

Professor Salem Abdel-Karim, head of the ministerial advisory committee, said in a briefing to reporters: “It is still very early, but at this stage, preliminary data indicates that the virus that now dominates in the second wave is spreading faster than the first wave.”

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South Africa currently has more than 8,500 people with Covid-19 who are receiving hospital care, a figure that surpassed the previous record of 8,300 people recorded in August.

For his part, Professor Ian San, a member of the advisory committee, told “News24” in South Africa: We are seeing an earlier and sharper rise in the second wave than we expected.

According to a report by the “Associated Press”, the new strain differs from the one in Britain (known as: VUI – 01/202012), but it is also more contagious than the previous one, and scientists in South Africa are studying whether the anti-disease vaccines will also provide protection against the new strain. .

Some vaccines, including the one developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, are undergoing clinical testing in South Africa. In response to the acceleration of infections, the South African government imposed tougher lockdown restrictions.

The average seven-day rate of new infections in South Africa has doubled in the past two weeks, from 6.47 new cases per 100,000 people to 14.68 new cases per 100,000 people.

 The number of deaths also increased, with the rate jumping from 0.18 deaths per 100,000 people on December 6 to 0.34 deaths per 100,000 people on December 20.