South Africa Records Sharp Decline in Omicron Cases

A wave of coronavirus infections driven by the Omicron variant in South Africa has continued its downward trend, health sources said Wednesday.

According to South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the total number of cases in the country fell below 10,000 per day this week, while positive Covid-19 tests dropped below 25%,

On Tuesday, the country registered some 7,216 new infections within 24 hours, with a positive test rate standing at 23.6%.

These figures are far less than those recorded earlier in December when cases reached 27,000 a day in South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first detected.

“The seven-day average is 26.8% today, which is lower than yesterday (27.4%),” the NICD said in a statement released late Tuesday, confirming the drop-off in cases.

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The figures suggest that South Africa may have already passed the peak of a fourth wave that grew rapidly at first, but is now declining at a similar speed.

Ridhwaan Suliman, a mathematician at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, said that cases increased by 117% compared to the Delta variant-driven peak in mid-2021.

Hospitalizations and deaths, however, stand at 60% and 16% respectively, Suliman wrote on Twitter.

South Africa, which has registered 3.4 million cases and around 91,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, remains the epicentre of the virus in the continent.

Progress of the vaccination rollout has been slow as only 27% of South Africa’s population of about 58 million have been fully vaccinated.

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