Covid infections in South Africa have tripled in a week, according to official figures that lay bare Omicron’s continued sweep across the country.
National Institute For Communicable Diseases has reported another 13,147 cases over the 24 hour period, as compared with 4,373 Tuesday.
It is 15 times higher than the 868 reported on the same date a fortnight back, which occurred a day before super-mutant variants were officially identified.
The infection rate today is nearly twice that of yesterday, however this was due to an increase in tests performed over the weekend.
The positivity rate is the percentage of samples that return positive results. It has been at approximately 25%.
In the meantime, 27 more deaths were reported, which is a 29% increase week-on-week.
Boris Johnson said today that Omicron is’more transmissible than Delta’, despite evidence suggesting it to be milder.
Top epidemiologist, Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London claimed that the UK was seeing a rapid increase in cases of this highly evolved variant. This is faster than originally thought.
Scientists warn that the super-strain could quickly become the dominant strain in the UK. They estimate the variant accounts for almost 2 percent of new infections in the UK, which is equivalent to 1000 people per day.
There is no way to know what the strain might have on deaths, severe illness and hospitalizations. So far, doctors on the ground have reported that most cases are mild.
Experts fear that the multiple mutations of this variant, which makes it more transmissible than ever, will increase pressure on the NHS due to the large number of patients who could be affected.
National Institute For Communicable Diseases has reported 13,147 new cases over the last 24 hour, an increase of 200 percentage from Tuesday’s figure. In the past 24 hours, 52,890 people had been tested and 24.9 percent were found to be Covid cases. There were 27 deaths, an increase of 29% week-over-week
South Africa’s cases have skyrocketed since Omicron was first discovered, with around a quarter of all those tested in the last six days being infected with the virus.
For comparison, the UK’s positivity rate on December 1 was 4.3 per cent — with 1.2million tests conducted and more than 51,000 testing positive.
South Africa is still home to the majority of those affected by the epidemic. There were 8,445 cases recorded in Gauteng.
KwaZulu-Natal was the eastern region with 1,396 reported cases. The Western Cape had 805.
Infections have been increasing at an alarming rate in Easter Cape. They rose to 717.1% over the previous week, and KwaZulu-Natal where they are up 659% week-on-week.
The highly evolved variant, which is a combination of increased infectiousness, vaccine resistance and antibody escape has been shown to be three-and-a half times more likely that Delta. This according to real world data
Meanwhile, 27 deaths were recorded — an increase of 28.6 per cent compared to last Tuesday’s figure.
Johnson, who told Ministers today at a Cabinet meeting that Omicron spreads faster than Delta, but that the preliminary data points in this direction, said that the data were not yet available.
The ministers publicly rejected the use of No10’s Plan B strategy to work from home and vaccination passports, in spite of dire warnings that they could face Britain within the next few weeks.
The Johnson spokesperson today suggested the possibility for another festive lockdown and said that the Government would respond’swiftly,’ should it be necessary.
Official UK figures today showed there were 45,691 new positive tests over the last 24 hours, up 15 per cent on last Tuesday’s figure of 39,716.
Although the number of cases continues to climb, hospital admissions have remained flat at 0.7%. But they will likely rise as a result of infections in the days ahead. Already, death rates are rising by 13.2 percent to 180.
Omicron may infect more people, experts warn. This could lead to a greater number of admissions even though only a few need to be admitted.
Asked whether Omicron could infect more people but make fewer people sick, Professor Spector told BBC Breakfast: ‘If early reports pan out – we don’t absolutely know this, we’ve got hardly any data in this country where we have high rates of vaccination – but if we assume that it is not more severe and possibly milder than Delta, but it’s much more transmissible…
“This means that people will pass the virus on to their friends and family twice as often than if they get it from a group. It’s good news because there are fewer people who need to go to the hospital. This partly is due to high vaccination rates.
But it does mean that you may eventually die from the disease. Nearly everyone infected is re-infected.
“And this is what it means for the whole country, but for each individual, it can be worse news, but for them all, it’s better. It’s not a reason to be complacent.
In South Africa, there’s been a dramatic rise in Covid infections in the past fortnight after Omicron was alerted to its existence on November 24, 2009.
Professor Spector of the Covid ZOEsymptom study stated that the UK may have Omicron in less than 10 days. This is contrary to the belief held by some other countries.
He stated that the official estimate is about 350 Omicron case, but because there are not many Omicron cases in the testing, the actual numbers would be between 1,000 and 2,000.
‘And we are expecting this to be doubling about every two days at the moment, so if you do your maths – say assumed it’s 1,000 at the moment, and you think it’s going to be doubling every two days, you can see that those numbers are going to be pretty (high) certainly in about 10 days time.’