The Daily Covid case numbers in South Africa are down by 22 percent compared with last week’s, increasing hopes of an end to the Omicron wave. 

South Africa’s scientists discovered the variant and recorded 2199 cases of new infections in 24 hours. This is nearly half the number of the 26,976 infections that were confirmed on Wednesday.

A fifth fewer people were tested for the virus in the last 24 hours compared to the same period last week, but test positivity — the proportion of those tested who are infected — has been trending downwards for nine days.    

There has been a decline in hospitalisations. More than 590 people were admitted to hospitals throughout the country. That is a drop of four percent per week according data from National Institute For Communicable Diseases.

But deaths – which lag two to three weeks behind the pattern seen in case numbers due to the delay in an infected person becoming seriously unwell – have risen.

Another 99 deaths due to Covid occurred on Wednesday, as opposed to the 53 recorded one week ago.    

This is despite the fact that only 25% of South Africans have been double-jabbed. Boosters are also not distributed in South Africa. 

There are high hopes for the UK that its Omicron wave won’t last too long, as Britain still has some protection through its booster programme.  

The Omicron surge is a serious threat to the health of UK citizens. There are uncertainties as to how severe and effective vaccines will protect them.

The good news is that the UK has seen a plateau in cases, with approximately 90,000.0 daily infections over the last 6 days.

This is despite the fact that the Government has warned of 1 million Britons being at risk for contracting the virus every day by year’s end.

Boris Johnson said today that he would not approve of Christmas curbs, because Omicron has ‘no evidence to support it. 

According to the NICD, 69.014 South Africans were tested in South Africa within 24 hours. 21,099 people tested positive.   

Since the outbreak, approximately 3.3 million people have been confirmed positive. However, the actual number will likely be much higher as not all those who contract the virus are tested.

As the virus continues to spread from ground zero Gauteng, the majority of new cases occurred in Kwazulu-Natal (5311), followed by Western Cape (4 609).

The province, which is home to Johannesburg and is where Omicron was first spotted, recorded the third-most cases (3,807). 

Meanwhile, 593 people were hospitalised in the last day, down by about four per cent in a week, bringing the country’s total number of hospitalisations since the pandemic began to 461,430.

Currently, 9,324 patients are receiving hospital treatment.

A further 99 Covid deaths have been recorded. This is almost 50 percent more than the 54 reported fatalities on Wednesday.

According to data, the disease is disappearing around one month after being first discovered. Meanwhile, scientists and ministers from the UK worry about what the effects of the tsunami will be in the weeks ahead.

UK is responding to this variant with its booster campaign. South Africa has not received a third jab, and 23% are still unvaccinated.

Experts in the UK warn that Britain’s population, which is older and more densely populated than it should be, could become more vulnerable to an epidemic.   

The chief medical officer of England, Professor Chris Whity said last week that he expects to see Omicron’s daily case numbers rise tremendously in the UK, and also to see them ‘come back down faster than other peaks’. This is similar to South Africa’s experience.

Professor Whitty told MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee last week: ‘I think what we will see with this is — and I think we’re seeing it in South Africa — is that the upswing will be very incredibly fast even if people are taking more cautious action. 

He added: ‘It’ll probably therefore peak really quite fast. 

‘My anticipation is it may then come down faster than previous peaks but I wouldn’t want to say that for sure.’

It comes as Britain’s daily Covid cases have plateaued for the fifth day in a row as an expert claimed that the Omicron wave may have peaked already.

There were 90,629 infections in the past 24 hours across the UK, up 52 per cent on last Tuesday’s toll but down slightly on the figure yesterday — despite wild projections of up to a million daily infections by New Year.

Since Friday, when the cases reached a high of over 93,000, they have been flat. 

Omicron has been a popular city in London. But the wave is slowing. Today, there were 20,491 reported cases in London. This is slightly lower than yesterday’s 22,750.  

MailOnline was told by Professor Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia that Johnson made the right choice because the cases “look like they have peaked”. 

He stated that although it’s not all bad news, Omicron seems to have stopped growing. These numbers seem to be at a standstill or even falling in the recent days.

Boris Johnson will let out a big sigh of relief if that is true. It’s just a matter of days, so we need to be cautious.

“And as we get closer to Christmas there’s nervousness that some people might not be able to come forward for testing. This is because they are afraid of getting negative results and losing out on the opportunity to meet their relatives.

Omicron triumphed over all other varieties around December 14. Therefore, most changes since then would have been down to Omicron. It would be a doubler if the number was increasing every day. We should have had 200,000 yesterday, and probably more than that today.

“But, the fact that it was around 91,000 makes it seem like it may have reached its peak. It will likely take at most Wednesday before we can get a sense of when the weekend won’t affect it. I’m more optimistic now than I was just a few short days ago. 

Today’s tests were at 1.49 million, which was down from the 1.56million conducted Wednesday. However Professor Hunter stated that this’relatively low drop in testing’ would not conceal a true doubling of the virus every two days.

The rate of test positivity has been slowly rising, with 13% of positive samples for the virus in December 2015, up from 9% the previous month.

Latest hospital figures show there were 847 Covid admissions across the UK on December 17, up only 7 per cent on the previous week. Today saw an additional 172 Covid death, which was up 14%.