Covid cases in South Africa have soared by a massive 408 per cent in just one week while deaths rose from eight to 21 across the same time period, according to the latest figures. 

In the past 24 hours, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the country recorded 16,366 new cases – the majority being in epicentre Gauteng.

This represents a 408per cent increase over the Saturday before, which saw just 3,220 infections in 24 hours. The exact variant of the cases that were reported is unknown.

On Saturday, 21 people died in Omicron. This is an increase of 162 percent from the 8 reported last week. 

The new 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 has seen a dramatic rise in cases due to Omicron’s spread, according scientists. It is now in every province of South Africa. 


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

This graphic, published daily by the NICD to display the number of active Covid cases in each country, is shown below. Below each name are bold numbers that indicate the number of new infections discovered every day. The number below indicates the active cases.

Public Health officials in Gauteng — where Johannesburg is based — say their R rate has surged to 3.5 from around one a month ago. This means that every 10 people who have been infected by the virus now spread it to 35 more. 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 causes. 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 vaccines against this strain should be effective despite the lack of data. Meaghan Kall, UK Health Security Agency epidemiologist warns Omicron could be worse 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. To date, there have been 134 Omicron case confirmed by UK officials.

Boris Johnson put South Africa and other south African countries on the red list to try to slow down the variant’s “seeding” 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. This alert status requires only that you wear face masks in public and sets some restrictions on large events. 

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

This map displays the percent change in Covid cases today across South Africa, compared to last week. The map shows that infections rose by over 300 percent week-on-week in eight of nine provinces. It was the Eastern Cape that saw the most dramatic rise, with infections rising 1,068%.

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

This graph displays estimates of Gauteng’s R-rate at the epicenter. The graph shows that the R-rate has risen from about one to three per month. That means, every ten infected people are spreading the virus to 35 others. 

Below is a map showing the locations and number of Omicron cases found in the UK. 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, like Alpha or the ‘Kent variation’, has a particular alteration that can be detected using PCR without the need to perform genomic sequencing. England’s proportion of S-gene-dropout positive tests has increased from 0.1% to 0.3% in the week prior, 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. 

NICD data are based on PCR and lateral flow tests that were performed across South Africa each day. The results showed that Gauteng, with 11 553 new cases per week, was the most infected province in South Africa. 

In the Western Cape, 957 new cases were reported, an increase of 588 percent, followed by KwaZulu–Natal (837) cases, an increase of 730%, and North West (805, an increase in 594%). South Africa is experiencing an increase in daily infections, with almost 7,000 new cases per day.

However, they have risen from a far lower base than countries such as the UK. Today’s cases broke through the 50,000 mark for the second straight day in just 48 hours.

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

Today, Oliver Dowden, Tory Party Chairman, insisted that people should “keep calm and continue” with Christmas parties and plans despite Omicron. However, Britain’s bars, hotels and restaurants are already losing billions and say that the damage has already been done.

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 stated that if Britons adhere to the rules of masking in shops and on public transport, then they are free to kiss any person they wish under the mistletoe.

Boris Johnson has advised businesses not to cancel office parties. His ministers had told him to either cancel, use masks or take tests.

Sky News spoke with Mr Dowden. He said: “The message to people is quite simple – keep calm, continue your Christmas plans. Although we’ve established the appropriate restrictions, it is important to keep calm and continue your Christmas plans.

“I am aware that there are concerns about the new version. The Government took the measures we have already described… We believe those are enough at this stage. People should not change their plans beyond what we suggested.

Many of Britain’s largest employers, including banks, tech companies, and the NHS have decided to stop hosting festive parties or moved them to online. Now, it is a 50/50 split.

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 diseases in the community than are being recognized.

The UK has a positivity rate of around 9 percent. 

Ramaphosa is currently avoiding imposing additional restrictions and instead contemplating plans to inform nationals that they will be receiving two doses.

He maintained that current measures are sufficient to prevent the spread of the virus, despite the rising incidence rates.

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

Professor Mary-Ann Davies from the University of Cape Town is an infectious disease specialist and has called upon the Government to increase vaccination rates.

The Sunday Times reported that she stated, “The most important thing we could do is increase vaccine coverage as quickly as possible for the most vulnerable group and that this is where our energies should be directed rather than locking down at this point.”

24 percent of South Africans are double-vaccinated with 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.

According to tourism bosses, the cancellation wave that resulted in so many booking cancellations was 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.

Today, Ms. Sturgeon blamed Steps for the Omicron varaint outbreak in Scotland.

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.

The cases were not linked to another performance at the venue by the same pop band the night after. 

England has so far detected 30 Omicron-related infections. Locations include Nottingham, Chiltern (South Cambridgeshire), North Norfolk, Brentwood and Spellthorne as well as South Norfolk, South Norfolk, Brentwood, Spellthorne and Buckinghamshire.

Omicron in London has been found in ten of the 32 boroughs. These include Haringey (Barnet), Haringey (Lambeth), Haringey (Lambeth), Lewisham, Sutton and Sutton in Westminster.

Official data has shown that there is an increase in cases of the strain. 

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.

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.

This graph displays the Covid vaccine coverage in South Africa and England. 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

The Covid Genomics UK Consortium(COG-UK) released images yesterday showing the 32 Omicron variant 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. It is not clear if this could be because of the spread of the strain to older individuals. 

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 collecting all evidence, and will continue to find more evidence.

“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 believe that Omicron is likely to be protected by covid booster jabs

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 trial, T-cell immunity responses in the body after the third dose suggest that they continue to provide protection against the risk of death or hospitalization due to the new strain. 

This supports the UK’s choice to use Moderna or Pfizer as boosters. Among the best uses of mRNA jabs is the fastest turbocharging T-cell and antibody responses.

The T-cells provide a longer lasting, more comprehensive protection than the antibodies. However, they are less effective at protecting against infection and can be used to treat autoimmune diseases.   

Saul Faust was trial director and head of the NIHR Clinical Research Facility University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. Professor Faust stated: “Even though it doesn’t fully understand its relationship to long term immunity, the T cells data is showing that it seems to have a wider range against all the variants. Which gives us hope, that a strain of virus may be able, at least for hospitalisation or death, if not prevention, of infection by the current vaccines.”

T cell responses were not limited to the spike protein, he said. However, they were recognizing a wide range of other antigens which might…be common to all variants.

When asked about Omicron specifically, he replied: “Our hope as scientists that protection against death and hospitalisation will continue to be intact.” 

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which received samples from the study, has now examined how the Omicron variant could be neutralized by vaccines. 

However, Dr Kall stated that she is skeptical about the claims of the new strain causing less severe diseases.

On Twitter, she wrote: ‘I am extremely skeptical that it could be more mild. The best scenario is that it has the same severity as Delta… however, you will see more mild symptoms than Delta because there are many more people who have immunity.

Pre-prints published yesterday indicated that Omicron had three times the chance of re-infecting people who’d had Covid previously.

South African researchers reported 35,670 new infections since the start of the pandemic. This was in addition to the 0.7% risk during South Africa’s Beta-fuelled Delta wave last summer and winter.

However, the likelihood of getting the virus has increased to at most 2.4.

Stellenbosch University scientists, who are near Cape Town, stated that Omicron could be more effective at evading immunity than other viruses which have been suppressed.

Pre-print papers are those that have not been reviewed yet by scientists. They then double-check their findings.

Simon Clarke from Reading University, microbiologist said this data is the “first indication” that Omicron can overcome immunity to Covid. 

“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 stated, “Omicron had blown a huge hole” in the argument that the infected should be allowed to spread as a way to develop immunity. 

Herd immunity now appears to be a distant dream. Omicron may have the ability to overcome vaccine-induced immunity. We are waiting for more information.

Paul Hunter, a University of East Anglia expert in infectious diseases said that Omicron would be capable of overcoming natural and possibly vaccine-induced immunity to some degree. 

“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 had detected the case a week before Nigeria, who found their first case from a October sample.