Omicron Covid cases in South African ground zero ‘peaked on 6 December’ – three weeks after start of wave – but they are still rising in rest of the country
- Cases of the Omicron variant reached a peak on December 6 in Gauteng
- There were 20,713 new cases of Covid-19 in South Africa under latest figures
- Charts show cases are falling in Gauteng while rising elsewhere in the country
Omicron cases in the South African ground zero peaked on December 6 , experts believe, but are still rising in the rest of the country.
Three weeks after the start of the wave, cases of the variant reached their highest level in Gauteng according to expert Louis Rossouw, which was first to feel the full force of the variant.
The rapid rise and fall of Omicron cases in Gauteng has mystified experts, and Covid cases in other areas of South Africa are now rising rapidly.
Some experts also point to data from South Africa which shows that far fewer people are hospitalised by Omicron leading to speculation that it could cause milder symptoms.
However pessimistic experts counter that South Africa’s high levels of immunity from infection and young population could be responsible for the lower hospitalisation numbers.
A total of 68,181 tests were conducted in the last 24hrs, according to The National Institute For Communicable Diseases Of South Africa (NICD).
It said there were 20,713 new cases, representing a 30.4 per cent positivity rate and an increase of 20% on last week.
Charts tracking the rate of Omicron across South Africa show cases are falling in Gauteng, while rising elsewhere.
After reaching a peak of 10,100 per day on December 7 on a seven-day moving average, cases are now around 8,000 per day, according to Louis Rossouw, who has written a scientific paper on the Omicron variant in the country.
A further 35 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported in South Africa, bringing the total fatalities to 90,297.
Three weeks after the start of the wave, cases of the variant reached their highest level in Gauteng, which was first to feel the full force of the variant. This is according to Louis Rossouw, who has written a scientific paper on the Omicron variant in the country
The majority of new cases today are still from Gauteng (28 per cent), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (25 per cent).
Yesterday, the country’s health minister Joe Phaahla revealed 1.7 per cent of Covid cases went on to be hospitalized during the second week of the current wave. For comparison, he said the equivalent figure was 19 per cent in the second week of South Africa’s Delta crisis.
Higher immunity levels due to vaccination and previous infection now than when Delta took off are thought to be behind the lower hospitalization rate.
But Phaahla suggested Omicron may have evolved to be milder, bolstering claims made by doctors treating patients on the frontline.
Public health official Wassila Jassat, who also attended the conference, said South Africa had fewer patients needing oxygen now than when Delta emerged. She added that patients were hospitalized for a shorter period.
It is the latest glimmer of hope for the US that Omicron may be milder than first feared.
Phaahla did not present an analysis to back up his suggestion that a lower proportion of patients were being hospitalized now than when Delta took off.
But two-thirds more swabs were being carried out every day at this point during the Omicron wave than for Delta which may have skewed the analysis.
A further 35 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing the total fatalities to 90,297
Hospitalisations in the country fell 23.4 per cent in a week today after another 374 people were admitted. But this could also be down to the holiday, with fewer people available to process data
Daily Covid cases in South Africa have risen 10 per cent in a week today. But the country is currently enjoying a public holiday, which likely skewed the figures
Data from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases showed that less than two per cent of patients were being hospitalized in the second week of the Omicron wave in South Africa. For comparison, when the Delta wave struck it was 12 per cent
Officials figures show some 54,800 tests were carried out every day in the second week of the current wave, compared to 32,600 in the second week of the Delta wave.
Omicron was first detected in South Africa on November 25, and Delta was first detected on May 8.
Its cases rocketed when Omicron first struck the country, and earlier this week reached a record high of almost 26,000 infections reported in a single day. On Thursday they rose 10 per cent week-on-week after another 24,700 were recorded.
Hospitalizations in the country also dipped on Thursday compared to the same time last week, but they are trending upwards to about 600 admissions a day from less than 100 before Omicron emerged.
But they are still below hospitalizations during the country’s second wave, which surged above 700 a day.
Doctors on the frontlines say that fewer patients need to be admitted to ICU or receive oxygen than when Delta took off, suggesting it may be more mild.
Phaahla told the conference: ‘We believe that [the reduced severity] might not necessarily just be that Omicron is less virulent.’
He said it also depends ‘coverage of vaccination’ and ‘natural immunity’, adding: ‘That’s why we are seeing mild illness.’
He also pointed to a slowdown in cases in Gauteng, where the average number of daily infections has dipped from 10,448 at the peak four days ago to 9,235 yesterday.
He said: ‘In terms of case numbers and percentage of testing positive, we are seeing a decrease in Gauteng, and early indications suggest that the peak has been reached, but there is rapid increase in the other provinces.’
Professor Whitty has warned against comparisons with South Africa, however, telling a gloomy Downing Street press conference on Wednesday that it was hard to compare the two.
He said: ‘I think there has been a certain amount of commentary about the fact that doctors and scientists from South Africa… have indicated that there may be some reduction in the hospitalisation rates they are seeing with Omicron.
‘I want to put a really serious caution on this because I think it has been overinterpreted.
‘The amount of immunity for this wave because of prior Delta wave and vaccination is far higher than it was for their last wave and, therefore, the fact they have a lower hospitalisation rate this time is unsurprising.
‘That doesn’t mean there is some degree of milder disease — that is possible — but I think there is a danger that people have overinterpreted this to say this is not a problem and there’s nothing to worry about. I want to be clear, I am afraid this is going to be a problem.’
Source: Read Full Article