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JOHANNESBURG, May 12 (Reuters) – Sub-variants of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and a relaxation of public health measures are driving a current surge in infections in southern Africa, a senior official from the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

“This uptick in cases is an early warning sign which we are closely monitoring. Now is the time for countries to step up preparedness and ensure that they can mount an effective response in the event of a fresh pandemic wave,” said Dr Abdou Salam Gueye, Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response at the WHO Regional Office for Africa.

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Reporting by Alexander Winning; Writing by Estelle Shirbon

Editing by James Macharia Chege

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.