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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa is experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases driven by two omicron sub-variants, according to health experts.

For about three weeks the country has seen increasing numbers of new cases and somewhat higher hospitalizations, but not increases in severe cases and deaths, said Professor Marta Nunes, a researcher at Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Analytics at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.

“We’re still very early in this increase period, so I don’t want to really call it a wave,” Nunes said. “We are seeing a slight, a small increase in hospitalizations and really very few deaths.”

South Africa’s new cases have gone from an average of 300 per day in early April to about 8,000 per day this week. Nunes says the actual number of new cases is probably much higher because the symptoms are mild and many who get sick are not getting tested.

South Africa’s new surge is from two variations of omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, which appear to be very much like the original strain of omicron that was first identified in South Africa and Botswana late last year and swept around the globe.

“The majority of new cases are from these two strains. They are still omicron … but just genomically somewhat different,” said Nunes. The new versions appear to be able to infect people who have immunity from earlier COVID infections and vaccinations but they cause generally mild disease, she said. In South Africa, 45% of adults are fully vaccinated, although about 85% of the population is thought to have some immunity based on past exposure to the virus.

“It looks like the vaccines still protect against severe disease,” Nunes said.

Nunes said that the BA.4 and BA.5 strains of omicron have spread to other countries in southern Africa and a few European countries, but it is too early to tell if they will spread across the globe, as omicron did.

The increase in COVID cases is coming as South Africa is entering the Southern Hemisphere’s colder winter months and the country is seeing a rise in cases of flu.

At a COVID testing center in the Chiawelo area of Soweto, many people come in to be tested for COVID, but find out they have flu.

“Now we’re in flu season … so it’s flu versus COVID-19,” said Magdeline Matsoso, site manager at the Chiawelo vaccination center. She said people come for testing because they have COVID symptoms.

“When we do the tests, you find that the majority of them, they are negative when it comes to COVID, but they do have flu symptoms,” said Matsoso. “So they get flu treatment and then they go home because the majority is related to flu and not COVID.”

Vuyo Lumkwani was one of those who came to get tested.

“I wasn’t feeling well when I woke up this morning. I woke up with body pains, a headache, blocked (nose), feeling dizzy, so I decided to come here,” she said.

“I was terrified about my symptoms because I thought it might be COVID-19, but I told myself that I’d be OK because I have been vaccinated,” said Lumkwani. She said she was relieved to be diagnosed with flu and advised to go home with some medications and rest.

___

AP journalist Sebabatso Mosamo in Johannesburg contributed.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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PGA Championship Par Scores

Thursday At Southern Hills Country Club Tulsa, Okla. Purse: $12 million Yardage: 7,365; Par: 70 First Round

Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland 34-31—65 -5
Tom Hoge, United States 33-33—66 -4
Will Zalatoris, United States 33-33—66 -4
Abraham Ancer, Mexico 33-34—67 -3
Matt Kuchar, United States 35-32—67 -3
Justin Thomas, United States 35-32—67 -3
Matt Fitzpatrick, England 34-34—68 -2
Lucas Herbert, Australia 35-33—68 -2
Chris Kirk, United States 33-35—68 -2
Kevin Na, United States 33-35—68 -2
Joaquin Niemann, Chile 35-33—68 -2
Mito Pereira, Chile 35-33—68 -2
Davis Riley, United States 35-33—68 -2
Xander Schauffele, United States 34-34—68 -2
Cameron Smith, Australia 31-37—68 -2
Dean Burmester, South Africa 34-35—69 -1
Stewart Cink, United States 34-35—69 -1
Tony Finau, United States 34-35—69 -1
Talor Gooch, United States 33-36—69 -1
Beau Hossler, United States 36-33—69 -1
Patton Kizzire, United States 35-34—69 -1
Kyoung-Hoon Lee, South Korea 34-35—69 -1
Thomas Pieters, Belgium 36-33—69 -1
Patrick Reed, United States 34-35—69 -1
Webb Simpson, United States 35-34—69 -1
Aaron Wise, United States 34-35—69 -1
Ryan Fox, New Zealand 35-35—70 E
Tyrrell Hatton, England 35-35—70 E
Russell Henley, United States 33-37—70 E
Max Homa, United States 36-34—70 E
Viktor Hovland, Norway 35-35—70 E
Shane Lowry, Ireland 35-35—70 E
Robert Macintyre, Scotland 37-33—70 E
Francesco Molinari, Italy 36-34—70 E
Alex Noren, Sweden 35-35—70 E
Brendan Steele, United States 35-35—70 E
Gary Woodland, United States 34-36—70 E
Sam Burns, United States 36-35—71 +1
Jason Day, Australia 36-35—71 +1
Tommy Fleetwood, England 35-36—71 +1
Rickie Fowler, United States 35-36—71 +1
Justin Harding, South Africa 35-36—71 +1
Kramer Hickok, United States 35-36—71 +1
Si Woo Kim, South Korea 35-36—71 +1
Shaun Norris, South Africa 37-34—71 +1
Seamus Power, Ireland 36-35—71 +1
Justin Rose, England 37-34—71 +1
Scottie Scheffler, United States 34-37—71 +1
Adam Schenk, United States 34-37—71 +1
Charl Schwartzel, South Africa 33-38—71 +1
Sepp Straka, Austria 33-38—71 +1
Kevin Streelman, United States 35-36—71 +1
Harold Varner III, United States 37-34—71 +1
Y.E. Yang, South Korea 33-38—71 +1
Cameron Young, United States 35-36—71 +1
Adri Arnaus, Spain 36-36—72 +2
Keegan Bradley, United States 37-35—72 +2
Laurie Canter, England 34-38—72 +2
Alex Cejka, Germany 34-38—72 +2
John Daly, United States 34-38—72 +2
Cameron Davis, Australia 36-36—72 +2
Jason Dufner, United States 37-35—72 +2
Lanto Griffin, United States 36-36—72 +2
Yuki Inamori, Japan 37-35—72 +2
Chan Kim, United States 35-37—72 +2
Kevin Kisner, United States 37-35—72 +2
Marc Leishman, Australia 35-37—72 +2
Hideki Matsuyama, Japan 36-36—72 +2
Keith Mitchell, United States 33-39—72 +2
Collin Morikawa, United States 35-37—72 +2
Jesse Mueller, United States 38-34—72 +2
J.J. Spaun, United States 35-37—72 +2
Jordan Spieth, United States 35-37—72 +2
Henrik Stenson, Sweden 36-36—72 +2
Cameron Tringale, United States 37-35—72 +2
Bubba Watson, United States 37-35—72 +2
Bernd Wiesberger, Austria 35-37—72 +2
Alex Beach, United States 35-38—73 +3
Rich Beem, United States 37-36—73 +3
Daniel Berger, United States 36-37—73 +3
Christiaan Bezuidenhout, South Africa 35-38—73 +3
Matthew Borchert, United States 37-36—73 +3
Joel Dahmen, United States 37-36—73 +3
Sergio Garcia, Spain 35-38—73 +3
Branden Grace, South Africa 37-36—73 +3
Adam Hadwin, Canada 35-38—73 +3
Dustin Johnson, United States 36-37—73 +3
Matt Jones, Australia 37-36—73 +3
Jinichiro Kozuma, Japan 34-39—73 +3
Anirban Lahiri, India 38-35—73 +3
Min Woo Lee, Australia 38-35—73 +3
Denny McCarthy, United States 37-36—73 +3
Maverick McNealy, United States 37-36—73 +3
Troy Merritt, United States 39-34—73 +3
Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa 37-36—73 +3
Ryan Palmer, United States 35-38—73 +3
Jon Rahm, Spain 36-37—73 +3
Jhonattan Vegas, Venezuela 35-38—73 +3
Richard Bland, England 37-37—74 +4
Cameron Champ, United States 36-38—74 +4
Brian Harman, United States 36-38—74 +4
Garrick Higgo, South Africa 38-36—74 +4
Harry Higgs, United States 36-38—74 +4
Sam Horsfield, England 34-40—74 +4
Rikuya Hoshino, Japan 35-39—74 +4
Zach Johnson, United States 38-36—74 +4
Russell Knox, Scotland 38-36—74 +4
Jason Kokrak, United States 36-38—74 +4
Luke List, United States 37-37—74 +4
Sebastian Munoz, Colombia 36-38—74 +4
Hudson Swafford, United States 38-36—74 +4
Daniel Van Tonder, South Africa 36-38—74 +4
Tiger Woods, United States 39-35—74 +4
Lucas Glover, United States 36-39—75 +5
Billy Horschel, United States 39-36—75 +5
Sadom Kaewkanjana, Thailand 38-37—75 +5
Brooks Koepka, United States 40-35—75 +5
Kyle Mendoza, United States 37-38—75 +5
Erik Van Rooyen, South Africa 38-37—75 +5
Ryan Vermeer, United States 39-36—75 +5
Lee Westwood, England 40-35—75 +5
Ryan Brehm, United States 37-39—76 +6
Patrick Cantlay, United States 38-38—76 +6
Corey Conners, Canada 37-39—76 +6
Martin Kaymer, Germany 40-36—76 +6
Bio Kim, South Korea 37-39—76 +6
Shaun Micheel, United States 38-38—76 +6
Ian Poulter, England 37-39—76 +6
Matthew Wolff, United States 38-38—76 +6
Tim Feenstra, United States 38-39—77 +7
Padraig Harrington, Ireland 38-39—77 +7
Mackenzie Hughes, Canada 39-38—77 +7
Takumi Kanaya, Japan 38-39—77 +7
Pablo Larrazabal, Spain 38-39—77 +7
Chad Ramey, United States 37-40—77 +7
Adam Scott, Australia 36-41—77 +7
Wyatt Worthington, United States 38-39—77 +7
Oliver Bekker, South Africa 38-40—78 +8
Brandon Bingaman, United States 37-41—78 +8
Michael Block, United States 37-41—78 +8
Paul Dickinson, United States 39-39—78 +8
Nicolai Hojgaard, Denmark 38-40—78 +8
Austin Hurt, United States 36-42—78 +8
Colin Inglis, United States 41-37—78 +8
Nic Ishee, United States 37-41—78 +8
Joohyung Kim, South Korea 40-38—78 +8
Dylan Newman, United States 41-37—78 +8
Scott Stallings, United States 38-40—78 +8
Shawn Warren, United States 40-38—78 +8
Tyler Collet, United States 40-39—79 +9
Jared Jones, United States 38-41—79 +9
Ryosuke Kinoshita, Japan 38-41—79 +9
Carlos Ortiz, Mexico 38-41—79 +9
Casey Pyne, United States 39-40—79 +9
Zac Oakley, United States 42-39—81 +11
Sean McCarty, United States 39-43—82 +12

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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