South Africa Announces 3.5M Cases as Omicron Breaks Records Globally

FILE PHOTO: Test tubes labelled “COVID-19 Test Positive” are seen in front of displayed words “OMICRON SARS-COV-2” in this illustration taken December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

South Africa’s Department of Health at the weekend announced it recorded 9,260 new cases of COVID-19 infections, bringing cumulative cases of the coronavirus disease in the country to 3, 513, 813.

The health department also announced that 140 new deaths were recorded to up the fatality figure to 92,252.

The announcement comes as the world registered over 300 million cases of the virus, with the Omicron variant rapidly spreading and setting new in several countries last week.

Thirty four countries — 18 in Europe and seven in Africa — announced record weekly cases of the disease since the start of the pandemic.

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Though a superspreader, the Omicron variant appears to cause less severe illnesses than its predecessors.

In the last week alone, there were 13.5 million cases worldwide, 64% greater than the previous seven days, but deaths dropped by 3% globally.

The French public health authority said that the risk of hospitalization for Omicron was approximately 70% lower. It cited data from the US, UK, Canada, and Israel.

A global average of two million new cases is detected daily, and experts warn that the sheer amount threatens to overwhelm health systems.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) says Omicron should not be classified as mild because it “hospitalizes people and kills people”.

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“In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world.”

The rapid spread of Omicron since it was detected six weeks ago has driven many countries to push harder for more vaccinations, and some to clamp down with restrictions.

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