The Delta variant has been the major contributor to South Africa's third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, a senior scientist said.
Addressing reporters here on Saturday, Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), said the Delta variant appeared to be dominating the new infections recorded in the country, reports Xinhua news agency.
"This is the variant that caused, initially, a massive epidemic in India and seems to increase very fast in frequency and dominating the infections in South Africa," he said.
"In the more recent data that we did in the community transmission in KZN, it completely took over."
Oliveira said the Delta variant was more transmissible even than the Beta strain.
"We are in the third wave. We continue to see the numbers repeatedly rising and the number of these infections continue to rise and Gauteng continues to be the epicentre of these new infections," said Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi at the press briefing.
In the last 24 hours, there were 18,762 new cases which represent a 25.5 per cent positivity testing rate. Of this, Gauteng accounts for 11,777 new cases.
Kubayi believed that it was now likely that the peak of the third wave would surpass that of the second wave in January when more than 21,000 new daily cases were recorded.
"We remain very worried about the rise in hospitalisation which is putting a lot of strain on the health facilities in Gauteng," she added.
South Africa has so far registered 1,913,861 Covid cases and 59,778 deaths.