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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.