The peak of the omicron wave was surpassed in South Africa —Where the new variant of the COVID-19 last month – with only a “marginal” increase in deaths, while many countries experience record infections of coronavirus.
“According to our experts, omicron reached its peak without causing a significant or alarming change in the number of hospitalizations.”, Commented on Friday the minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele, assuring that the government would remain vigilant in the face of any contrary evolution.
The curfew night, in force for exactly 21 months, had been reduced to the hours between midnight and 4 in the morning. On the eve of the celebrations of New Yearfinally got up.
“Our hope is that this uprising will hold”, Indicated the minister in a virtual press conference.
“We are trying to find a balance between people’s lives, their livelihoods and the goal of saving lives”, He indicated, recalling that the South African economy is still seriously affected by the pandemic.
Maintaining the use of the mask, distancing and accelerating vaccination —which continues to fall short of the objectives, with only 15.6 million people fully vaccinated out of a population of 59 million— the minister hopes that “curfew will never come back”.
On Thursday night, the presidency announced that “all indicators suggest that the country probably passed the peak of the fourth wave”Of the pandemic, with only a“marginal increase in the number of deaths”.
New infections, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to be “followed hour by hour and if we observe a difference“In evolution,”we will act immediately”, The minister insisted on Friday.
New contaminations decreased almost 30% last week (89,781), compared to the previous week (127,753), while hospital admissions decreased in eight of the nine provinces.
“Although the omicron variant is highly transmissible, hospitalization rates have been lower than in previous waves”, Highlighted the presidency.
Ómicron, which has a high number of mutations and significant resistance to vaccines, was first identified in Botswana and South Africa in late November.
It quickly became dominant in South Africa, causing an exponential increase in the number of cases to more than 26,000 contaminations daily in mid-December, according to official statistics.
Extremely contagious, it affects both vaccinated people and those who have already been infected by the virus.
South Africa is the most affected African country, with more than 3.4 million cases and 91,000 deaths. In the last 24 hours, fewer than 13,000 cases have been detected.
“The speed at which the fourth wave increased due to omicron, reached a peak and then declined, was astonishing. A peak in four weeks and a precipitous decline in two weeks”Fared Abdulá of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) tweeted.
While many omicron-affected countries announce a tightening of sanitary restrictions, and record cases of new infections per day, the South African government lifted the curfew and night establishments can resume normal operation.
However, the use of the mask is still mandatory in public spaces and concentrations are still limited to 1,000 people maximum indoors and 2,000 outdoors.