The outbreak of new Covid variant Omicron in the province of Gauteng in South Africa has triggered the sharpest rise in hospitalisations of any previous wave, sparking concerns that a similar outbreak in the UK could overwhelm the NHS.

Gauteng has had over 1000 hospitalizations within the last week. This is quadruple the number recorded two weeks ago. Meanwhile, South Africa saw 1,802 hospitalisations during the week ending Friday, the most recent day data are available. 

It appears that the virus is more easily transmissible. Cases have increased from 300 to almost 7,000 in a week ago, to around 300 to 7000 on a rolling seven-day average.  

According to recent figures, cases have increased by 408 percent in a week. Deaths rose by 8 to 21 during the same period. 

National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the Republic recorded an additional 16,366 cases Saturday. Most were located in epicenter Gauteng, a 408 percent increase on the weekend that saw just 3,220 new infection reports. 

We don’t know which version of these cases were recorded. 

Willem Hanekom is the director of South Africa’s Africa Health Research Institute. He said, “The virus spreads extraordinarily quickly in South Africa. This is a much higher rate than the previous, and it appears that it will spread quickly. 

Hanekom said this to Andrew Marr, “Virtually all of the cases we are seeing in South Africa at the moment are Omicron,” 

Professor Rudo Mathivha from the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, said that ‘We shouldn’t be seeing such numbers so early in the wave’. He spoke about a 15 year-old who died of complications caused by Covid. 


A woman is tested for COVID-19 at the Lenasia South Hospital, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. Doctors are concerned about the rising number of hospitalisations in the country, particularly in the epicentre Gauteng province

On Wednesday, December 1, 2021, a woman was tested for COVID-19 by the Lenasia South Hospital near Johannesburg. Concerned by the increasing number of hospitalisations across the country, in particular in the epicentre Gauteng Province, doctors are worried.

The above graphic is published by the NICD every day to show the country's official Covid cases count. The bold figures underneath each province's names are the new infections detected every day, while the number below is the number of active cases (numbers for today not yet available)

This graphic, published daily by the NICD to display the official Covid count in the country is shown above. Below each province’s name, bold numbers indicate the new infections that are detected daily. While the number below indicates the number of active patients (numbers not yet available).

A young child with moderate-to-severe symptoms who needs high level care or supplemental oxygen should not be seen. He told The Telegraph that this is what is bothering him. 

Omicron was hit hard by the famine and 21 of its citizens died on Saturday. That’s an 162 percentage increase over last week, when only 8 were reported. 

The latest figures bring the total number of cases in South Africa up to 3,020,569, while the number of deaths have increased to a total of 89,956.

South Africa’s cases are on the rise due to the rapid spread of Omicron, which is believed to have reached all provinces in the country.  

Sharing Omicron figures from the Steve Biko/Tshwane District Hospital Complex, she tweeted: ‘Most COVID-19 patients didn’t know they had COVID when they got admitted (they were admitted for another condition).’ 

Public Health officials in Gauteng — where Johannesburg is based — say their R rate has surged to 3.5 from around one a month ago. The virus is now being spread to 35 people for every 10 infected. The R rate in the UK has not risen to above 1.6. 

Omicron’s infectivity is undisputed. However, it remains uncertain how it will evade vaccinations or how serious the disease it can cause. A pre-print published in the country found the variant was at least two-and-a-half times better at re-infecting people than all other variants.

South African public health professionals and WHO insist that Omicron cases are not severe and that vaccines against it should be effective despite the lack of data. Meaghan Kall from the UK Health Security Agency warns Omicron might be more dangerous than Delta.

Fears of the virus are rising in the UK, as six suspected cases have been linked to a Steps concert. As the number of suspect cases rises, official data indicates that the variant could be spreading in England. Officials in the UK have confirmed that there are 134 Omicron cases. 

The Covid crisis in Britain has shown mixed results today, with both deaths and cases continuing to increase. According to government data. 

Professor Mark Woolhouse is part of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group for Modelling (Spi–M). He said this to Andrew Marr on BBC Radio: “The Omicron variant appears to be highly transmissible. It seems that it is spreading rapidly in South Africa, and there are early indications that it is spreading quite rapidly in the UK.

“If these trends continue over the next weeks and months Omicron might even replace Delta completely around the globe.

“The Health Security Agency has reported that there have been over 100 Omicron cases in the UK as of Friday, with many in London and Scotland.

According to figures from the National Institute for Communicable diseases of the country, infections have risen in Gauteng at the epicenter of the epidemic. Infections are also rising in eight other countries’ provinces

The above map shows the percentage change in Covid cases across South Africa today compared to the same time last week. It shows that in eight of the nine provinces infections rocketed by more than 300 per cent week-on-week. The sharpest rise was recorded in Eastern Cape where infections surged 1,068 per cent

Below is a map showing the change in Covid incidences across South Africa compared with last week. This map shows how infections rose more than 300% week-on–week in eight out of nine provinces. It was the Eastern Cape that saw the most dramatic rise, with infections rising 1,068%.

Omicron-related vaccines will continue to be effective despite the fact that they are’very, very bad’. 

Professor Mark Woolhouse from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, (SpiM) stated that “Vaccinologists and immunologists feel this variant can’t escape the vaccines altogether.”

It is crucial to recall that booster vaccinations against the Delta variant (which is a completely different variant) have been very effective. The vaccines not only provide protection against infection, but they also prevent disease, and can even be used to put people into hospital.

“So, even though the Omicron vaccines are slightly less effective they will still work very well.”

A Government science advisor has stated that the Omicron variant was’spreading quite rapidly’ in Britain.

Figures from the UK Health Security Agency show that yesterday’s death rate was 127, which is 3.1% lower than last Saturday’s figure of 131. 

However, 42,848 infections have been reported in the country within the past 24 hours. This is 8.3% more than the 39,567 that were last week.

Officials have discovered 75 Omicron variant cases in England, bringing the total UK number to 134.  

And the number of people admitted to hospital with the virus also increased 5.6 per cent in a week to 812 on Tuesday, the latest date data is available for. 

Yesterday, 75 more cases of super-mutant Omicron variants were discovered in England. This brings the total Omicron infection in England up to 104. The total Omicron infection in the UK stands at 134. 

There were cases of this new variant in London’s East Midlands, East of England and London.

Scotland saw an increase of 16 cases to 29, and Wales yesterday announced that the first case was found in Cardiff. Northern Ireland does not have any confirmed cases. 

Boris Johnson placed South Africa, along with a number of other countries from southern Africa on the “red list” to stop the variant’s spread in the UK. Johnson also placed face masks on buses, in schools, shops and public transportation in England. He said that all Omicron case contacts must be isolated for 10 days.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa will be holding a meeting on Saturday. It is still on Alert Level 1, which requires that face masks be worn only in public areas and limits large-scale events. 

A hospital worker ensures people practice social distancing as they wait in line to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Lenasia South Hospital, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021

While people line up to get their COVID-19 vaccinations at Lenasia South Hospital in Johannesburg (South Africa), Wednesday December 1, 2021, the hospital worker helps them practice social distancing.

Data in South Africa shows the R-rate has soared to over three per cent in recent weeks as Omicron took hold in Gauteng province

Below is an estimate of Gauteng’s R rate at the epicenter of the epidemic. This graph shows how the R rate in Gauteng province has increased from approximately one to 3.5 per month. That means, every ten infected people are spreading the virus to 35 others. 

The map below shows Omicron cases and locations. After six cases linked to a Steps concert, Nicola Sturgeon warned that the Omicron variant has already spread in Scotland. 

Official data shows that the proportion of positive Covid tests with a mutation synonymous with the highly-evolved strain is on the rise in the UK. Like Alpha, or the 'Kent variant', Omicron has a specific alteration which means it can be detected through PCR tests without the need for genomic sequencing. The proportion of positive tests in England with this so-called S-gene dropout has risen from 0.1 per cent in the past week to 0.3 per cent, the equivalent of one in 330. Scientists said the increase in S-gene dropouts suggests there could be hundreds of Omicron cases that are flying under the radar currently

According to official data, the UK is seeing an increase in positive Covid test results for a mutation that has become synonymous with this highly-evolved strain. Omicron is similar to Alpha and the ‘Kent variety’. It has a unique alteration that allows it to be detected by PCR tests, without the need of genomic sequencing. England’s proportion of S-gene-dropout positive tests has increased from 0.1% to 0.3 percent in the week just before, roughly one in every 330. According to scientists, the increased number of S-gene failures could indicate that hundreds of Omicron cases are currently under radar. 

South Africa’s test positivity rate — the number of swabs that detect the virus — is running very high, however, with almost a quarter of all swabs picking up the virus. 

It is possible that there may be more illnesses in the community than are being recognized.

In the UK, it is about nine per cent. 

Ramaphosa, President of Zimbabwe has not yet imposed any additional restrictions. Instead, he is mulling plans to give two doses Covid to nationals.

He insists that the current restrictions can keep the virus away despite rising infection rates.

Oliver Dowden’s Christmas advice: “Keep calm, and go ahead with your plans” 

Oliver Dowden of the Tory Party insists that people “keep calm” and go ahead with their Christmas celebrations despite Omicron. But Britain’s clubs, pubs, restaurants and hotels set to lose billions as cancellations keep going on, says Dowden.

Dowden said that the government had followed its instructions despite contradictory advice from a number of ministers and stated: “There is still a Conservative Party Christmas party planned.”

He said, “Brits must adhere to mask rules in shops and public transport.”

Boris Johnson has advised companies not to cancel office parties. His ministers told them to either cancel, wear masks or take tests.

Sky News’ Mr Dowden said that he believed the message was simple: Keep calm and continue with your Christmas plans. While we have put in place the restrictions, please keep your cool and go on.

“I know that some people are concerned about this new variant. That is why we took the steps that we already mentioned… those we believe are adequate at the moment and people should carry out their plans in the same way as before.

In the midst of confusion over what to do next, some of Britain’s most important employers such as banks and tech companies have either stopped hosting holiday parties entirely or gone online. The split is currently 50-50.

Because of economic ramifications, and the local election campaign which took little into account Covid measures in November, President Obama is expected to be challenged. 

Professor Mary-Ann Davies is an expert in infectious diseases at the University of Cape Town and has requested that the Government get more people vaccined.

According to her, the Sunday Times local paper stated that the single most important thing she could do was increase vaccination coverage in vulnerable populations. This is the place where energy should be focused and not at locking downs.

24% of South Africans received two doses from the Covid vaccine. The UK has 67% who are double-vaccinated. 

South Africa has criticised the western nations’ travel bans on it and its neighbors.

The wave of cancellations that it brought about was described by tourism executives as a “nightmare”.

Britain has already detected 59 Omicron cases. However, officials state that it’s ‘likely” more will be found in the next few days.

Ms. Sturgeon believed that a Steps concert was responsible for the Omicron vaint epidemic in Scotland earlier this week.

Six of 29 cases in country were confirmed by the First Minister. They had all been connected to an event held at OVO Hydro, Glasgow’s largest concert venue. 

There have not been any cases that were linked to the second performance of the pop band at this venue on the next night. 

Today, Nicola Sturgeon urged people to get vaccinated as she got her Covid booster jab but said she cannot guarantee the programme will be free of ‘glitches’ such as people being turned away from appointments.

After receiving her flu jabs and booster, she made the comments as Scotland was experiencing 14 coronavirus-related deaths and 1,257 new cases per hour.  

Ms Sturgeon, who was was given her vaccinations at a sports centre in Easterhouse which is being used as a vaccination site, said: ‘Please come forward for your vaccination. This is the best thing that you can do for yourself, but also to help protect your family and friends.

It is not too late to have your first and second doses. However, we are urging people to boost their immune systems as quickly as they can.

‘We know that the booster vaccination gives you significant added protection – not just marginal added protection – so it really makes a difference.

“That was important before there was a new variation, but it’s more relevant now.

Omicron is similar to Alpha and the ‘Kent version’. It has a unique alteration, which can be detected using PCR tests, without the need of genomic sequencing.

England has seen an increase in positive S-gene test results, with a rise of 0.1% in the week before to 0.3% today. This is the equivalent of 1 in 3330. 

According to scientists, the rise in S-gene drops suggests that there may be many Omicron cases under radar.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, today urged everyone to get vaccinated. She received her Covid booster jab and said that she could not guarantee that the program will be without ‘glitches’ like people being refused appointments.

The above graph shows the percentage of the population fully vaccinated against Covid in South Africa and the UK. It reveals that some 24 per cent of South Africans have already been jabbed, although a higher proportion now have immunity.

Below is the graph showing the Covid vaccination rate in South Africa as well as the UK. This graph shows that around 24% of South Africans were jabbed already, with a greater proportion being protected now.

New images of the Omicron variant's 32 mutations (left) were released yesterday by the Covid Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK). They show the variant's three mutations — H655Y, N679K, and P681H, located in the lower right of the image — that could help the virus sneak into the body more easily

Yesterday, the Covid Genomics UK Consortium released new images (left) of 32 Omicron mutations. They show the variant’s three mutations — H655Y, N679K, and P681H, located in the lower right of the image — that could help the virus sneak into the body more easily

Initial reports from southern Africa indicated that the majority of cases were either mildly or totally asymptomatic. However, there is no evidence of an age breakdown. This makes it impossible to determine if the strain has spread to older persons. 

According to the WHO, it’s a mild strain. Christian Lindmeier (WHO spokesperson) said today to reporters in Geneva that he has not yet seen any Omicron related deaths. 

“We are gathering all of the evidence. We will discover more as we go.

“The more people we test, the more places… Keep testing them, and specifically looking into Omicron variants, we’ll also find more cases and more information. We may even see deaths.

Scientists say that Omicron may be prevented by giving booster shots to covids.

Covid booster vaccines are likely to offer good protection against the Omicron variant, experts behind a major new study say — in the first glimmer of hope since the emergence of the super-strain last week. 

According to the Government-funded study, the body’s immune system response to the third dose of the drug suggests that it will protect against death and hospitalization from the new strain. 

This supports the UK’s choice to use Moderna or Pfizer as boosters. Moreover, mRNA jabs boost antibody and T-cell response most.

It is believed that T-cells offer a greater level of protection and longer term than antibodies, which provide an immediate boost but then fade more quickly.   

Professor Saul Faust is the trial leader and director at the NIHR Clinical Research Facility, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. He said that although we do not fully understand the relationship to long-term immunity the T cell data shows that the immune system seems to be stronger against all variant strains. This gives us hope that a variant strain could be treated, at least for death and hospitalization, with the current vaccines.

He stated that T cells did not only respond to the spike protein, but “are also recognising an even wider variety of antigens which might…be common to all variants.”

He answered specific questions about Omicron by saying: ‘Our hope, as scientists, is that protection from hospitalisation and deaths will remain intact. 

Now, samples taken from the study were sent to the UK Health Security Agency to see if the Omicron variant of the virus can be neutralised using vaccines. 

Dr Kall however said that the claim of a new strain being less dangerous was not true.

She wrote on Twitter: “I’m highly skeptical it could be milder. It’s best to assume it is similar in severity as Delta… however, you will see milder symptoms than Delta because more people are immune now.

Yesterday’s preprint suggested that Omicron is three times as likely to infect again people who have had Covid.

South African scientists reported that there were 35,670 cases of reinfection since the outbreak of the pandemic. The risk of reinfection increased by 0.7 percent during South Africa’s Beta-fuelled Second Wave last winter, and Delta wave this summer.

The risk of contracting the virus once again has risen to at minimum 2.4.

Researchers from Stellenbosch University near Cape Town said that Omicron is more able than others to overcome immunity.

The preprint means that the paper hasn’t been verified by any other scientists.

Simon Clarke, a microbiologist from Reading University said that the data were the first indication Omicron might be immune to previous Covid infections. 

“There were some caveats to this research, like not being able confirm that Omicron was responsible for the reinfection. But they were able determine that increased beta and Delta transmission was not due to immune evasion. 

“There are no clues as to the mechanism of this immune evasion, but it could be due to decreased antibody binding Omicron’s mutant spike protein.

He said, “Omicron has made a huge hole in the controversial argument we should allow the infection spread to try to build immunity.” 

“Herd immunity, which seems now like nothing more than an idle dream. Omicron may have the ability to overcome vaccine-induced immunity. We are waiting for more information.

Paul Hunter, University of East Anglia’s expert on infectious diseases, stated that Omicron could overcome vaccine-induced immunity in a substantial way. 

“But, it’s still not clear what the degree will be. However, it’s doubtful that there will be complete escape.”

He added: ‘It remains the case that the extra value of the booster vaccination dose remains the most important step that we can take to reduce the probability of severe disease. 

“I believe that new targeted vaccines against the omicron will be created, but if the disease spreads as quickly as it appears in South Africa, then many of us could have the illness by the time the new vaccine becomes available.” 

This variant of the virus has been detected in over 30 countries around the world and was likely spreading before South Africa raised alarm. The Netherlands discovered the virus a week prior, and Nigeria detected its first case with a sample collected in October.