Hospitalisations soar by 330% in South African area where Omicron first detected


Hospitalisations have risen by 330% in the past two weeks in the South African province where the Omicron Covid variant was first detected.

Gauteng has had 580 hospitalisations caused by Covid which is a 330% rise from the 120 people that needed hospital treatment two weeks earlier.

At the same time the province, that includes Johannesburg, has one of the worst vaccine rollouts in South Africa with just under 40 percent of the 12 million residents having had at least one jab.

Scientists are currently investigating amid fears that the Omicron variant could be the most infectious and could evade vaccination protection due to the extent that it has mutated.

The news of the dramatic increase in hospitalisations comes as South African health officials have stated that cases of the Omicron variant have been mild.

Scientists are currently investigating amid fears that the Omicron variant could be the most infectious
AFP via Getty Images)

There were 120 people who went into hospital during the first week of November in Gauteng but that had doubled to 276 a week later and then went up to 580 last week.

But still it is not possible to be exact over how many of the hospitalisations were caused by the new variant as genetic sequencing is only carried out on a small number of cases.

In genetic sequencing last week there were 77 cases found in the region.

South African officials have said that the cases appear to be “mild”.

“Their symptoms were so different and so mild from those I had treated before,” said Dr Angelique Coetzee, a South African Medical Association board member, told the Telegraph.

“It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well.

“So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer the loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home.”

Joe Phaahla, South Africa’s health minister, has blamed the recent spike in cases on the highly infectious variant.

Many countries around the world have moved to restrict travel from South Africa but this has been criticised by some health officials.

“Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of Covid-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, said in a statement.

“If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations, which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations.”

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