Covid cases appear to be peaking in the South African province at the epicentre of the Omicron outbreak, data suggests as a British expert hailed the data as ‘tentative good news’.

Gauteng province has seen a meteoric rise infections since mid-November, when the first cases of the highly-evolved strain started appearing — jumping from 58 to 11,703 as of yesterday. 

Christina Pagel from University College London, who is a mathematician, has been closely following the spread of the disease. She said that infections are increasing by around 25% per day since November 15. 

The trend in infections has slowed down over the last 4 days, which suggests cases could be reversing an exponential increase. 

Professor Pagel is a member UK’s Independent Sage Group and has often advocated for tighter restrictions. In addition, she accused ministers from underestimating the severity of outbreaks. Her optimistic prediction that Omicron might have been exterminated in South Africa’s ground zero province within a month could indicate the UK will be able to contain its outbreak, which is contrary to what some experts are predicting. 

On social media she wrote: “There’s some preliminary good news from Gauteng, this week. This suggests that there might be a peak in cases.”

Yesterday Boris Johnson announced that the UK will follow Plan B rules starting next week. Experts warned this variant could cause 1,000 daily hospitalizations and a million new cases by the New Year.

MailOnline analyses of South Africa’s hospital rates show that Omicron has caused less severe disease than previous versions. Omicron has resulted in 60% less hospitalized patients being transferred to intensive treatment in Gauteng, compared with Delta. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) said today ‘the number of admissions is very low’ in South Africa compared to those seen during the Delta wave — despite infections being higher than with the previous strain.

Even if it causes milder symptoms, the infection can lead to serious complications that could result in hospitalisations.

Covid cases appear to have already peaked in the in the South African province at the epicentre of the Omicron outbreak, figures suggest. Graph shows: Gauteng's daily cases (red line), average cases (blue line) compared to the predicted 25 per cent daily rise cases had been following since November 15

Figures suggest that the number of cases of covid has already reached its peak in South Africa’s province, at the epicenter for the Omicron epidemic. Figure: Gauteng’s average and daily cases are shown in red. These numbers were compared with the 25 percent daily rise that had been predicted since November 15, 2015.

But cases are still increasing on a week-on-week basis, up 41 per cent on the 6,168 recorded the previous Wednesday. On average, there are now around 9,143 infections per day in the area, up from 2,897 last week

The number of cases is still rising week to week, 41% more than the 6,168 that were recorded Wednesday. The average number of infections in this area is now 9,143 per day, an increase from the 2,897 reported last week.

Professor Christina Pagel, a mathematician at University College London, said infections have been increasing at a rate of around 25 per cent per day in Gauteng, South Africa, since November 15. She said infections over the last four days have dipped below this trend, suggesting cases may be rounding off. Graph shows: The rate of infection growth in Gauteng (red line) compared to daily cases (dots). Black dots indicate case numbers on Sunday and Monday which are always lower due to falls in testing at the weekend

Christina Pagel (a University College London mathematician) stated that since November 15, infections have been rising at around 25% per day in Gauteng. According to Pagel, infections have declined below the trend over the past four days. This suggests that cases are catching up. Figure: Gauteng’s infection rate (red line) is compared with daily cases (dots). These black dots signify cases on Monday and Sunday, but they are usually lower than the average due to weekend falls.

Broken down by province, most of the new cases are still being recorded in Gauteng at the epicentre of the outbreak. But cases are ticking up in every province of the country

Most of the cases in Gauteng, the epicenter of this outbreak is broken down by province. However, the number of cases is increasing in all provinces.

Omicron might be more mild than Delta according to WHO chief claims 

According to WHO Wednesday, early evidence suggests that the Omicron Covid variation may not cause severe disease as previous versions. It could however reinfect those who have been infected with the virus and/or have received vaccines.

Tedros Adhanom, chief of World Health Organization, stated that emerging data from South Africa indicates an increased risk for reinfection with Omicron. He also said that there is some evidence Omicron can cause milder diseases than Delta.

He stressed the need for more information to draw firm conclusions and asked countries to increase their surveillance in order to get a better picture of Omicron’s behavior.

As global worry grew regarding the mutation, many countries reimposed border restrictions.

Tedros cautioned against slowing down in your fight against Omicron, even if Omicron is less dangerous.

He warned that a lack of complacency in the present would lead to death.

Michael Ryan, WHO emergency director, agreed. He pointed out that the data so far indicates that the variant is “efficiently transmitting and possibly more efficiently transmitting even though the Delta variant.”

He said, “That doesn’t mean the virus cannot be stopped.”

It means that virus transmission between people is faster. We must redouble efforts to stop the transmission of viruses between people to ensure our own safety.

He said that even though the new variant is less harmful than other variants, it can still transmit more quickly and cause more illness, burdening health systems, and causing more deaths.

WHO experts stressed importance of vaccination. Some data suggest that Omicron vaccines are less effective than some others, however, this does not mean they cannot provide severe protection.

Soumya Swaminathan, chief WHO scientist cautioned against jumping to conclusions from early studies indicating that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine might have less effectiveness against this new variant.

She noted that there were only a few studies and the reduction of ‘neutralizing activity’ was not significant in all studies. It varied from 4 to 5 fold in certain experiments to as high as 40fold in other studies.

The neutralisation of antibodies was also not considered, even though ‘we know that the immune system has much more complexity than that’, said Sheri.

She stated, “So it seems premature to conclude this reduction neutralising activity would lead in significant reductions in vaccine effectiveness.” “We don’t know.”

Professor Pagel suggests that Gauteng has lost the rapid growth rate it had experienced since November 15th.

According to her, infections had been increasing at around 25% per day on average since the middle-of-the month. That would mean they were up to 19,000 right now. 

Gauteng data shows that there were 11703 cases of new infections in the area yesterday. Daily infection rates are lower than the trend over the past four days.

Early data indicates that the growth rate in the region may be slowing, she stated. 

The cases of cancer are increasing week-over-week by 41 percent compared to the 6,168 that were recorded on Wednesday. 

The average number of infections in this area is now 9,143 per day, an increase from the 2,897 cases last week. 

Gauteng’s maximum test capacity could explain the slower pace of positive cases. 

Officials upped the number of daily tests given out from 89,020 in the week ending November 27 to 167,321 in the week ending December 4, the latest date data is available for.

During that period, positivity — the proportions of tests that came back positive — increased from 16.3 per cent to 35 per cent.

The days when this trend was highlighted are yet to be available. It is therefore impossible to know if actual infections have been increasing exponentially, even though positive tests were not. 

In England, Johnson has activated the Covid emergency plan last night to address fears that the strain could cause one million new infections and 1,000 daily NHS admissions.

Tory MPs vented fury at the Prime Minister over anti-Omicron actions, described as “nonsensical”

Millions of office workers will be asked to work from home starting Monday. Masks will be required for cinemas and theatres. Covid passports for big venues and nightclubs are also being introduced. Critics were furious when the PM said that Christmas party should be held at work, prompting ridicule from others. 

Sage had warned that the variant’s mutations and vaccine escape made it more dangerous than ever before. The variant has been infected twice daily compared with Delta’s seven. Sage was able to convince Sage to put restrictions in place.

Even though the strain may cause milder diseases than the predecessors, the surge in hospital admissions could be as severe as the previous wave due to the large number of individuals who might become infected.

Omicron has been implicated in fewer severe and hospitalizations than previous Omicrons, according to preliminary WHO data from South Africa. 

Today, Dr Thierno balde, WHO Africa’s operational partnerships manager, stated that there has been a significant increase in the number of cases over the last seven days, an increase of almost 25%. 

“We also see a 12 percent increase in hospitalisations over the past 24 hours. 

“But when we look at Omicron and Delta together, it becomes apparent that there are very few admissions. But we must remember that we are still in the early stages of this wave. We need more time to understand. 

He said, “We monitor the situation daily. 

“In terms of current conditions, we see an increase in hospitalisations, but it is not clear that this situation has caused tension at the hospitals. 

‘There are six per cent of ICU beds occupied by Covid patients, so there is still a large capacity left to look after patients — which may be needed in coming weeks or it may not.’ 

The above graphs compare cases (left), Covid hospitalisations (centre) and ICU admissions (right) during the Omicron (red) and Delta (blue) waves. The start date for both waves was set as when South Africa announced its first case of each variant. Although the number of Covid hospitalisations (centre) is similar during both waves doctors on South Africa's frontlines have said there are far fewer patients needing ICU admissions and ventilators than at the same point in the Delta wave. This is backed up by official data (left) which shows the number of ICU admissions is currently at a third of the level it was during the Delta wave

Above graphs display data on cases, Covid hospitalisations (centre), and ICU admissions (right), during Omicron (red), and Delta (blue). When South Africa published its first variant of the Omicron (red) wave, it was also set for the start date. Although Covid hospitalisations in South Africa are comparable during both waves (centre), doctors working on the frontlines of South Africa have indicated that patients require ICU admissions and ventilators at a lower rate than they did at the Delta wave. The official data (left), shows that ICU admissions currently are at about a third the rate it was during Delta waves. 

The proportion of Covid patients hospitalised in Gauteng, South Africa's Omicron epicentre, is shown during the Omicron (left) and Delta (right) waves. The start of each wave was marked as when South Africa announced its first case of the variant. Figures show that at present the ICU admission rate for Covid patients is just a third of the level seen at the same point during the Delta wave. Experts say this may suggest that the mutant strain is less severe than first feared

During the Omicron and Delta waves, you can see how many Covid patients were admitted to Gauteng (South Africa’s Omicron epicentre). Each wave began at the time South Africa had announced its first instance of this variant. The ICU admission rate for Covid sufferers is only a third that of patients admitted during the Delta wave. Experts believe this could indicate that the mutant strain may be less serious than initially thought.

The above shows the proportion of hospitalised Covid patients on ventilators during the Omicron (left) and Delta (right) waves. It reveals that levels are currently at a third of what they were when Delta took hold as well. The start date for both waves was set as when South Africa announced its first case of each mutant strain in the country

Below is a graph showing the ratio of Covid hospitalized patients using ventilators in the Omicron (left), and Delta (right). The data shows that current levels are only a third what they were before Delta was established. Both waves were officially launched when South Africa reported its first instance of each mutant strain.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases publishes South Africa's daily case counts. Its figures today showed that infections had more than doubled in a week and reached their highest level for five months

South Africa’s Daily Case Counts are published by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Today’s statistics showed that the number of infections in South Africa has more than doubled over a week, and they have reached their highest levels for at least five months.

The above map shows the week-on-week percentage change in Covid cases by province in South Africa. It shows cases areat least doubling in every province week-on-week except Gauteng, which has the highest infection rate and is at the epicentre

Below is a map showing the weekly percentage change of Covid cases in South Africa by province. The map shows that cases have at least doubled in each province, except Gauteng which has the highest rate of infection and is the epicenter.

Omicron is deemed’mostly mild by the EU’ according to a watchdog 

EU Medicines watchdog Thursday said that the Omicron Omicron variation of Covid-19 could cause milder illness. As the World Health Organization warns against vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations, it is possible for the virus to spread.

After the WHO stated this week that Omicron is more likely to cause severe diseases than Delta (currently the dominant variant), the European Medicines Agency has made a tentative judgment.

The EMA echoed these findings, however they said that further investigation is being undertaken.

EMA’s Head of Biological Health Threats and Vaccines Strategy, Marco Cavaleri stated that while most cases are mild, we still need more data to confirm that Omicron causes severe diseases.

Global panic erupted after the discovery of the highly-mutated variant in South Africa last month. It raised concerns that it might be more contagious and could cause severe illnesses or even evade vaccinations.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of WHO stated Wednesday that emerging Omicron data in South Africa suggested a higher risk of Omicron-related reinfections.

Cavaleri indicated that Omicron may be more contagious than Delta in early data, however it wasn’t clear if it would take over the dominant strain.

He also stated that the current winter had provided better treatment and prevention options than it did last winter. 

Tedros Adhanom from WHO, the director-general of WHO, said yesterday that there was an increase in Omicron infection risk due to emerging data coming out of South Africa.

“There’s also evidence Omicron can cause milder illnesses than Delta,”  

He stressed the need for more information to draw firm conclusions and asked countries to increase their surveillance in order to get a better picture of Omicron’s behavior.

Tedros advised against slowing down in your fight against Omicron even though it may turn out to be less serious. He warned that if we allow ourselves to become complacent, it will lead us to lose our lives.

Michael Ryan, WHO emergency director, agreed. He pointed out that the data so far indicates that the variant is “efficiently transmitting and possibly more efficiently transmitting even though the Delta variant.”

Yesterday’s MailOnline analysis showed Omicron caused fewer hospital admissions that Delta at the same point in time after they were both first discovered in South Africa.

Gauteng had 139 Covid hospital patients who were admitted to intensive care units on Monday. It was just two weeks since the nation’s last wave. This represented 8 per cent infected patients that were admitted to treatment.

In comparison, 393 people infected with the virus were admitted to ICUs within the same time period as Delta, which is 24%. 

NICD figures showed that in the latest week — roughly a fortnight after the strain was first detected — there were 1,371 Covid-infected patients in the province’s hospitals every day, on average.

These 103 patients were admitted to intensive care (8%), while 30 others were connected up to ventilators (2%)

To compare, there were 1,578 patients admitted to hospital each day during the Delta wave (24 percent) and 153 ventilated (10%).

The overall rate of hospital admissions to the province is the same as it was during the Delta wave.

A much smaller proportion of these cases involve severe disease that requires patients to be admitted to the ICU and hooked up to ventilators.

British scientists said that promising data showed the possibility of a milder disease than with other mutants. 

However, experts warn it’s still early in the game and that people can become severely ill from being infected. 

These experts also suggest that people with immunity against vaccines, or who have had an infection before infected the country could play a part.