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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- An Oregon-born gray wolf that thrilled biologists as it journeyed far south into California was found dead after apparently being struck by a vehicle, authorities said Wednesday.

No foul play was suspected in the death of the male wolf known as OR93, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a news release.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered in California, where they were wiped out by the 1920s.

"Before his demise, he was documented traveling the farthest south in California since wolves returned to the state, which is historically wolf habitat. The last documented wolf that far south was captured in San Bernardino County in 1922," the department said.

A truck driver reported spotting the dead wolf on Nov. 10 near the Kern County town of Lebec, about 75 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The carcass was located along a dirt trail near a frontage road running parallel to Interstate 5, and a warden who responded quickly identified the wolf as OR93 because of a radio tracking collar it wore, the department said.

A necropsy performed at Wildlife Health Laboratory in Rancho Cordova found that the wolf had significant tissue trauma to its left rear leg, a dislocated knee and soft tissue trauma to the abdomen.

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OR93 was born to the White River pack in northern Oregon in 2019. He went into California's Modoc County on Jan. 30, 2021, returned to Oregon briefly, then again entered California on Feb. 4 and headed south.

His last collar transmission was from the central coast's San Luis Obispo County on April 5. By then he had traveled at least 935 miles in California, the wildlife department said.

OR93 was among a small number of gray wolves that have begun coming to California from other states.

"I'm devastated to learn of the death of this remarkable wolf, whose epic travels across California inspired the world," Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

"In this annual time of reflection, I thank him for the hope he gave us and for a brief glimpse into what it would be like for wolves to roam wild and free again," Weiss said.

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Covid cases soar in South Africa by 403% in a week – after alarm sounded about omicron varian

COVID cases in South Africa have rocketed by more than 400 per cent in a week as the Omicron variant spreads.

An explosion in infections saw 4,473 cases recorded yesterday, up from 868 cases last Tuesday, amid fears of the new super-strain.

1Covid cases have rocketed by more than 400 per cent in a weekCredit: EPA

Yesterday's figures marked a 92 per cent leap from the 2,273 cases recorded on Monday.

More than 10 per cent of the 42,000 people tested in the past 24 hours were found to be positive, with one leading virologist admitting the figures were "scary".

Prof Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation, tweeted: "Goodness me! Scary increase of cases and positivity rate in South Africa.

"Please keep safe, use a mask and go for vaccination as 1000s of scientists in the world try to understand better."

Experts fear the fast-spreading Omicron variant could evade some of the current vaccine protection.

Gauteng province is the epicentre in the surge of in new Covid cases, with 72 percent of the day’s cases, followed by the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal with six percent of cases each.

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Hospitalisations from the virus in Guateng, where less than 40 per cent of people have had a jab, have soared by 300 percent this week.

The worrying spike in cases comes just days after Omicron was first detected in South Africa.

???? Read our Omicron variant live blog for the latest news

Mr Michelle Groome, head of the division of public health surveillance and response at the The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), said: "There has been a tremendous increase in the past 10 to 14 days."

Dr Waasila Jassat, from the NICD, said unvaccinated patients are suffering more severe symptoms than those who have been jabbed.

They are also more likely to end up in hospital if they are infected with the Omicron variant.

Dr Angelique Coetzee, a private practitioner and chair of South African Medical Association, said on 18 November she noticed seven patients at her clinic who had symptoms that were different from the Delta variant.

"Their symptoms were so different and so mild from those I had treated before," said Dr Coetzee.

There has been a tremendous increase in the past 10 to 14 days

Mr Michelle Groome, head of the division of public health surveillance and response at the The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)

"It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well.

"So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer the loss of taste or smell.

"They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home."

South Africa has a young population which may explain why patients have not been severely ill with Omicron so far.

The new Omicron strain, or B.1.1.529, was first reported 13 days ago with cases reported across a number of African nations.

But Dutch officials have revealed Omicron was already in the Netherlands five days before South Africa raised the alarm.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, said travel bans on South Africa were “deeply disappointing” as he pleaded with countries, including the UK to reconsider.

South Africa is one of 11 countries that have been added to the red list, with only British and Irish nationals and residents allowed to enter on flights.

Passengers must quarantine in a government quarantine hotel for 10 days on arrival.

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