South Africa has crested the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections driven by the spread of the omicron variant. CSIR researcher Ridhwaan Suliman said that the country passed the peak in about half the number of days it took to get past previous waves.
South Africa’s new daily infections peaked in the 20,000s in early December. The latest stats show that the country had 15,424 new cases on Tuesday, 21 December. Despite remaining on adjusted level one lockdown, South Africa’s hospital admissions only reached 8,019 last week.
This is compared to the 14,504 weekly hospitalisations during the third wave’s peak, when the country was still under Alert Level 4 lockdown. South Africa had significantly looser restrictions during the fourth wave of infections than during the third.
However, this was because hospital admissions remained well within our healthcare system’s capacity.
Medical researchers have said that there may be several reasons hospital admissions remain relatively low:
Omicron doesn’t cause as severe a case of Covid-19 as Delta.
A combination of vaccinations and infection from previous variants has spared most South Africans who catch Omicron from worse symptoms.
Increased hospitalisations could be lagging behind new cases due to how rapidly this wave peaked.
An Imperial College London study contradicted the first possible explanation. It found no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 from the omicron variant was less severe than the delta variant.
While the data suggests that South Africa’s Omicron-driven fourth wave may be less severe than previous coronavirus outbreaks, researchers warned that South Africans must not let their guard down.
National Institute of Communicable Diseases hospital surveillance team researcher Waasila Jassat explained that Covid-19 still presents with a spectrum of symptoms.
People still get severe symptoms and die, and some report suffering “long Covid”. For this reason, people should vaccinate, continue to wear their masks, and avoid large gatherings, Jassat said.
In other news – SABC celebrates 10th year anniversary of Skeem Saam
SABC took to social media to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of Skeem Saam.