JOHANNESBURG, December 31, 2021 (AFP) – South Africa, the country in which a new variant of the Covid-19 virus was detected in November, has announced that it has passed the peak of the Omicron wave without noticing a significant increase in deaths, while many countries are still like that. Experiencing infection records.
“According to our experts, Omicron has reached its peak without translating into a significant or alarming change in the number of hospitalizations,” commented this Friday (31) the Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gongobele, assuring that the government will remain vigilant.
The nighttime curfew, in place for nearly two years, 21 months to be exact, has been reduced to midnight to 4am. And on New Year’s Eve, it was finally lifted.
“We hope that this uprising will continue,” the minister said during a virtual press conference. “We seek to find a balance between people’s lives and livelihoods with the goal of saving lives,” he said, noting that South Africa’s economy remains severely affected by the pandemic.
By maintaining the mask, separating, and speeding up vaccination – short of targets, with only 15.6 million people fully vaccinated for a population of 59 million – the minister hopes that “the curfew will never return.”
On Thursday, the presidency said that “all indications are that the country has certainly passed the peak of the fourth wave” of the epidemic caused in particular by the new, most contagious strain.
The presidency added, “There was a slight increase in the number of deaths in all governorates.”
New infections last week fell by about 30% from the previous week, from 127,753 to 89,781. There was also a decline in hospital admissions in eight of the nine provinces.
“Although the omicron variant is highly transmissible, hospitalization rates were lower than in previous waves,” the presidency said.
omicron has already been detected in a hundred countries, has a higher transmission velocity than delta, but at the same time appears to cause a reduced risk of hospitalization, according to the first studies in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
However, scientists warn that its high infection rate could neutralize this apparent virulence, also causing a major wave of hospitalizations and deaths.
“The speed with which the fourth wave associated with the omicron grew, peaked and declined was astounding. Peak in four weeks and amazing decline in two weeks,” Farid Abdullah of the South African Medical Research Council wrote on Twitter.
While many countries are doubling their restrictions on this alternative, the South African government has decided to lift the curfew between midnight and 4:00 am, a requirement for the entertainment sector before the end of the year.
However, the presidency warns that “the risk of increased infections remains high, given the strong transmissibility of the omicron variant.”
South Africa is officially the worst-affected country on the African continent, with more than 3.4 million cases and 91,000 deaths. Less than 13,000 cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours, and half of the peak of 26,000 cases has been reached in this latest wave.
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