Covid cases in Omicron-stricken South Africa spiralled to their highest level in five months today — but early data suggests the mutant strain is milder than Delta.
Over the last 24 hours, the National Institute for Communicable diseases of the country recorded 19,842 more infections than the previous Wednesday. This is nearly twice the number.
It was the most infections in a single day recorded since July early, as the country’s Delta wave was about to end.
In just one week, 170 percent more hospitalisations were performed after 374 Covid-infected patients were admitted.
Doctors on the ground say that patients are experiencing milder symptoms than when Delta struck. They also need less ventilators.
After another 36 deaths, the number of covids in the country rose by 28 percent. Because of how long it takes for someone to get seriously ill with the virus and then die, there is a delay in the number of fatalities.
This is a result of a MailOnline study on hospitalisations in Omicron “ground zero” Gauteng that revealed that while admissions follow the Delta wave’s trajectory, only two-thirds of patients are admitted to intensive.
British experts claimed that there was evidence to suggest the variant might cause milder illnesses than the other mutations. Officials from the World Health Organization stated in a briefing that there is’some evidence’ that the mutant strain causes milder illness than the Delta version.
Experts point out that the disease is not yet well understood and it can take time before people are able to get sick enough to require hospitalization. It is possible that the virus may have been spread to more people who are immune from previous infection or those with a history of immunity.
Britain has reported 568 Omicron-related cases. Experts warn cases double in two days, and it may outcompete Delta by Christmas.
No10 officials insist that the Government will act quickly to control the variant and have made plans to request people from England to “work from home”. Boris Johnson holds a Downing Street Conference today.
South Africa’s Daily Case Counts are published by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. The figures showed today that infection rates had increased more than twice in one week and were at their highest for five consecutive months.
The majority of new cases have been broken down into provinces, with Gauteng being the epicenter of the epidemic. The number of new cases continues to rise in each province.
This map displays the week-on–week percentage changes in Covid cases per province in South Africa. 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.
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 the first instance of this variant. According to figures, the current ICU admission rates for Covid patients are only one-third of those seen during the Delta wave. Experts believe this could indicate that the mutant strain may be less serious than initially thought.
Above is the percentage of Covid patients who were hospitalized during Omicron and Delta waves. The data shows that current levels are only a third what they were before Delta was established. When South Africa first reported each of the mutant strains in its country, it set the start date for both waves.
These graphs show comparisons between cases (left), Covid hospitalisations and ICU admissions during Omicron and Delta waves (red and blue). When South Africa first reported a case of any variant, the start date was established for both waves. Omicron may be more transmissible that Delta according to many scientists, however there could also be more Omicron cases due to the fact that South Africa began counting positive lateral flow test results in its official statistics in November. Although there is a similar number of Covid hospitalisations in both waves, doctors at South Africa’s frontlines claim that the current wave has far fewer ICU admissions or ventilators needed than the Delta wave. Official data (left), which indicates that the current level of ICU admissions are only a third what it was in the Delta wave, backs this up
There have been 568 confirmed cases in the UK so far. However, there are new concerns about Covid restrictions being placed before Christmas. Experts have said that the mutant strain may become dominant in weeks instead of months.
South Africa’s NICD updates daily on Covid hospitalisations, deaths, and Covid cases.
The country’s cases doubled within a week, except for epicentre Gauteng where the numbers have spiralled up to extremely high levels.
But the province — home to the country’s largest city Johannesburg — still recorded the most cases in the country followed by KwaZulu-Natal (1,989 infections, up 317 per cent in a week), and the Western Cape (1,899 infections, up 203 per cent in a week).
Initial data from the NICD suggest that Omicron is less virulent that its Delta counterpart, which raises hope that the mutant strain may have evolved to be milder.
Gauteng had around 139 Covid-infected patients at its hospital. They were admitted to intensive care wards Monday. It was equivalent to 8.3% of infected patients admitted for 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.
There were 103 in ICU (8%), while 30 others were connected to ventilators (2%)
Comparatively, the Delta wave’s second week saw 1,578 people in hospitals every day (24%) and 158 on ventilators (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.
However, the provincial intensive care admission rate seems to have risen despite remaining at about one-third of levels in the Delta wave.
Yesterday, of 1,805 Covid hospital patients in the area, 177 were admitted to the ICU (9.8%) and 51 received ventilators (2.8%).
South Africa’s Omicron- and Delta waves began based upon the time each country reported it had found its first instance of each variant.
This was the May 8th for Delta. Omicron’s first case was reported on November 25, however.
Infected people in South Africa increased by almost two-thirds from 23.3 to 44.2 per million during the Delta wave.
To compare, Omicron saw an almost 22,000% increase in daily infections from 9.1 to 173 cases per million when it was first launched.
Because of the low infection rates in November, Omicron waves may have more cases than Delta strikes.
South African government only started counting positive lateral flows tests in their official figures around mid-November. This may have led to a biased comparison.
However, it seems almost certain that Omicron transmits more than Delta. That would account for the quicker rise in cases.
Although it’s not known how many hospitalizations were caused by Omicron in this province, experts believe that at most the majority of them were due to the dominant Omicron variant in the region.
There are approximately 46,000 Covid cases per day in Britain. Data from Covid Genomics UK Consortium suggests that the new strain may be behind about one-third of those 66, which is a mere 1.4%.
As the Omicron variant gains traction in the region, covid cases in South Africa are on the rise. These are Eswatini — which is landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique —, and Namibia and Zimbabwe which both share more than 50-mile borders with the country
In South Africa, Delta was almost unknown when it first became a reality. Omicron has spread to such an extent that 24% of those vaccinated have had two doses. South Africans are also immune to the virus due to previous infections.
This image has caused fear in scientists and prompted ministers at the UK to accelerate the rollout of booster vaccines. In England, mask mandates have returned. Experts fear that the super-mutant Omicron Omicron variant will be the most dangerous and resistant strain to vaccines. A graphic released by the top national variant monitoring group shows that the Omicron strain has nearly five times more modifications on its spike protein than the Delta strain.
Three of South Africa’s neighbours — Zimbabwe, Namibia and Eswatini — are now seeing their cases start to rise as the variant takes hold in the region.
Zimbabwe shares 140-mile borders with South Africa. Its infection rate rose more than 700% in one week, from 5.22 per million to 45.6.
Also, infections have increased more than 700 percent in Namibia from 4.1 to 35 cases per thousand people. The infection rate in Eswatini has risen 1,300% to 11 to 154 cases/million, which is a tiny country bordered South Africa and Mozambique.
Omicron’s genome sequencing has been poor in these countries, which means it is difficult to determine how many are responsible. However, experts believe that Omicron is likely to have caused the rise in three of these countries.
Francois Balloux is a University College London geneticist who suggested that it could be less dangerous than initially thought based upon the numbers.
MailOnline was informed by him that hospitalisations could be lower during the current wave of HIV/AIDS. This is because more people in South Africa have been vaccinated or had their immunity tested. Omicron, however, may also be less infectious than Delta.
“This view only uses Gauteng data to date.”
Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia is an expert in infectious diseases and agreed with the idea that the mutant strain might be less dangerous than Delta.
MailOnline was told by he that it is possible. “But, what I’d say is that you rarely end up on ventilators for more than two to three weeks after an infection.
It is too early to say for sure, however there are some early indicators in data suggesting that it may be.
He said that data from the WHO Meeting this week showed that patients of all ages were approximately three times as likely to succumb to severe illness as people who had Delta.
However, there are many people who still have a very early stage of the illness that may get more severe over time.
Dr Hunter said that even though it’s less severe, the fact that it is transmissible could mean it can still cause as many hospitalizations as Delta.