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Omicron ‘overtaking’ Delta in South Africa

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The new COVID-19 variant Omicron is causing a rise in reinfections in South Africa, a scientist studying the strain has said, though also appears to have less severe symptoms. David Doyle has more.

Omicron is causing an increase in COVID-19 reinfections in South Africa, a scientist studying the new strain has said, and is fast overtaking Delta to become the country’s dominant variant.

Professor Anne von Gottberg, a microbiologist at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, was speaking at a World Health Organization press conference on Thursday (December 2).

“Previous infection used to protect against Delta but now with Omicron that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

However, she said she and her colleagues believe new infections and reinfections with Omicron would feature less severe symptoms.

COVID-19 cases are rising dramatically in South Africa – one of the southern African countries that first detected the variant.

Speaking at the same event, the WHO’s regional emergency director for Africa, Dr Salam Gueye, said the organization was working closely with countries to step up the response to the new variant.

“In South Africa, where WHO has already a team working in genomic sequencing, we are deploying a surge team in Gauteng province to support surveillance and contact tracing.”

But Gueye also warned that only 7.5% of Africans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – and that 80% haven’t had a single shot.

“This is a dangerously wide gap.”

Many countries have imposed travel bans on passengers from southern Africa.

African leaders have protested – saying they are being punished for their transparency in reporting data on Omicron.

On Thursday Ghana said it had detected the new strain in 34 samples from travelers who returned to the country between November 21 and 25 – but gave no further details about those who were tested.

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Tonga welcomes more foreign aid as recovery continues

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Aid is trickling into Tonga from around the world, as more governments deploy ships and flights to the island nation following the massive tsunami on Saturday

The underwater volcano explosion triggered tsunami waves across the Pacific, claiming the lives of at least three people in Tonga.

The wild weather event caused significant damage and crippled communications – the true extent of the damage is still unknown.

A New Zealand vessel which is expected to arrive on Friday is the first major supply ship to pending to dock.

The captain of the HMNZS Aotearoa had earlier told ticker NEWS partner Reuters that the ship was carrying 250,000 litres of water, along with other supplies. The UN says clean water supplies are the top priority for the Pacific nation.

Australia has also deployed its largest ship, the HMAS Adelaide.

The vessel set sail bound for Tonga on Friday. The ship can carry helicopters which can be deployed from the ship to bring supplies to Tonga’s smaller outer islands.

That vessel is due to arrive mid-next week.

The UK also announced on Friday it was also redeploying its HMS Spey to the Tongan response and had sent aid supplies ahead with the Australian ship.

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17 dead after immense explosion rocks western Ghana

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17 people have died in Western Ghana after a truck carrying mining explosives collided with a motorcycle sparking an explosion

The explosion has left hundreds of buildings destroyed, many feared to be trapped among the rubble.

The accident happened around midday, near the mining city of Bogoso, 300km west of the West African country’s capital of Accra.

The exact number of casualties so far stands at 17, with authorities on the ground confirming another 59 are in hospital.

However, the head of the Prestea Huni-Valley municipal government where the explosion took place, Isaac Dsamani, told local media that officials had counted “about 17 dead bodies” so far.

According to reports, at least 57 who were injured had been taken to local hospitals.

More than 500 buildings have been destroyed.

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Ivanka Trump to be investigated

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The US House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots is now requesting to speak with Ivanka Trump

Ivanka is Donald Trump’s daughter and was a senior White House advisor during the insurrection.

The request marks a major step forward in the investigation, as the panel closes in on the former president and his inner circle.

The committee publicly released a letter addressed to Ivanka… seeking “voluntary cooperation”.

The letter also includes testimony regarding Trump’s efforts to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence on the morning of the attack.

A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump has refused to respond as to whether the former president’s daughter will cooperate.

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