South Africa has announced it has beat omicron without a significant increase in the number of deaths.
South Africa, the country where the new variant of COVID-19 was first detected in November, announced on Thursday, December 30, that it has overcome the peak of the wave caused by omicron without a significant increase in the number of deaths.
“All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level,” said a statement from the presidency. They did state that there had been a marginal increase in the number of deaths in all provinces, however.
Over the last week, the number of new cases fell by almost 30% in relation to the previous week, from 127,753 to 89,781, and hospital admissions decreased in eight out of nine provinces.
“While the omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves,” said the presidency.
Omicron has been detected in around a hundred countries now and has a higher rate of transmission than the delta variant, but it seems to have a lower risk of hospitalisation, according to early studies done in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Even so, scientists warn that its high capacity for infection may still cause an important wave of hospitalisations and deaths.
“The speed with which the Omicron-driven fourth wave rose, peaked and then declined has been staggering. Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two. It was a flash flood more than a wave,” tweeted Fareed Abdullah, from the South African Medical Research Council.
While many countries are increasing restrictions in response to the variant, the South African government has decided to lift the curfew between midnight and 4:00 a.m., a request from the hospitality sector before New Year’s Eve.
South Africa is officially the most affected country of the continent, with more than 3.4 million cases and 91,000 deaths. In the last 24 hours, there were 13,000 cases, half of the peak of 26,000 that was reached in this last wave.
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