Experts claim that eleven times as many patients with Covid are now admitted to hospitals in South Africa than they were in the summer.

The country’s health minister Joe Phaahla revealed 1.7 per cent of Covid cases went on to be hospitalised 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.

A press conference was also held by Mr Phaahla, who stated in an interview that early indicators indicated that Gauteng had reached a peak. Gauteng was the first region to experience the full strength of the variant.

The province’s daily infections have started to trend downwards, about three weeks after the ultra-infectious variant took hold.

The lower rate of hospitalisation is thought to have to do with higher immunity levels from vaccinations and prior infection since Delta’s flight.

Dr Phaahla suggested Omicron could have evolved to be more mild, supporting claims made by physicians treating frontline patients.

Wassila Jassat from South Africa’s public health was also present at the conference. She stated that South Africa now has fewer people who need oxygen than before Delta. Her comments included that the hospital stays of patients are shorter.

It is the latest glimmer of hope for Britain that Omicron may be milder than first feared, suggesting that its rapid rise won’t cripple the health service in the coming weeks – despite gloomy projections.

Professor Chris Whitty warned that there should not be any comparisons made between these two countries. This is because South Africa’s youth are far more vulnerable than those in the UK.

Data from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases showed that less than two per cent of patients were being hospitalised in the second week of the Omicron wave in South Africa. For comparison, when the Delta wave struck it was 12 per cent

According to data from the National Institute for Communicable diseases, less than 2% of South African patients had been admitted in the second week following the Omicron waves in South Africa. It was 11% when the Delta wave hit.

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

Today’s Daily Covid cases have increased by 10% in South Africa. However, the country is on a national holiday which may have affected the data.

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

After another 374 admissions, hospitalisations fell by 23.4 percent in the week to today. This could be due to holiday-related reasons, as there are fewer data processors available.

Health minister Joe Phaahla said in a press conference today that 1.7 per cent of Covid cases were currently being admitted to hospital. For comparison, he said it was 19 per cent during the second wave. Mr Phaahla is pictured above getting a Covid jab

Joe Phaahla, the health minister, stated today in a press conference that 1.7% of Covid cases are currently being admitted into hospital. It was 17% during the 2nd wave. Above, Mr Phaahla receives a Covid jab

The analysis presented by Mr Phaahla to support his assertion that Delta is seeing a smaller number of hospitalized patients now than before it took flight was not supported. 

However, Omicron Wave participants were able to take two-thirds of the samples every day. This may have affected the results. 

According to official figures, 54,800 test were performed every day during the second wave of this wave, as opposed to 32,600 for the Delta wave.

Omicron first became apparent in South Africa’s November 25, while Delta first appeared on May 8, 2008.  

Omicron was the first to strike, so cases rose rapidly. This week’s record-breaking number of nearly 26,000 infections were reported within a single day. They rose 10% week-on-week, after an additional 24,700 cases were reported yesterday.

Yesterday’s hospitalisations also fell compared to last week. But they are now trending upwards, to around 600 admissions per hour from the 100 that Omicron had reported before it emerged.

However, they still represent a fraction of levels in the country’s second-wave.

According to doctors on the ground, fewer patients are admitted to ICU and need oxygen now than before Delta launched. This suggests that it is more gentle. 

Mr Phaahla told the conference: ‘We believe that [the reduced severity]Omicron might be less virulent than Omicron.

He said it also depends ‘coverage of vaccination’ and ‘natural immunity’, adding: ‘That’s why we are seeing mild illness.’

The Gauteng case rate has been declining, with the daily infection count dropping from 10 448 to the peak just four days ago to 9 325 yesterday. 

“In terms of test positives and case numbers, we’re seeing a drop in Gauteng. Early indications indicate that this peak is reached. But, the growth in other provinces is very rapid.”

However, Professor Whitty warned against making comparisons to South Africa. He said at a downing Street press conference that it was difficult to draw parallels between the two.

He explained that Omicron has helped to reduce the number of hospitalisations.

“I am putting a serious cautionary on this, because it seems that the meaning has been misunderstood.

“The level of immunity in this wave due to prior Delta waves and vaccinations is significantly higher than that of their previous wave. It is therefore not surprising that they are hospitalized at a lower rate this time.

‘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. This is going to cause problems, and I’m afraid of that.