In South Africa, the number of reported coronavirus infections is increasing rapidly. On Saturday, health authorities reported 16,366 new infections, and on Friday there were 16,055 infections. Last week, an average of 8,860 positive tests were reported per day, more than 5 times the previous week. So far, 217 omikron variant infections have been identified in the country, and the new variant is likely to be implicated in another 38,000 people who have tested positive. This is now being investigated, but it is not clear from standard Corona tests which variant a person has had.
The rapid increase in infection rates in South Africa is not due to more testing. Nearly a quarter of the tests performed have been positive, a month ago that was less than 2 percent. The high percentage of positive tests means that the actual number of infections is probably much higher than the number reported.
Most of the new infections, nearly 12,000, were reported in Gauteng province. Also converted into population, the number of positive tests in the densely populated province is by far the highest in all of South Africa. In Gauteng, the omikron variant is now the most common mutation of the coronavirus. More and more corona patients are ending up in the governorate’s hospitals. On average, more than 200 new Covid patients are hospitalized each day. At the beginning of November, area hospitals were seeing an average of about 20 new COVID-19 patients per day.
Corona numbers are also rising sharply in the countries surrounding South Africa. Over the past week, the fastest-rising number of infections were found in South Africa and neighboring countries such as Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Lesotho, which is surrounded by South Africa, is also among the top ten rapidly increasing reported infections.
Last week, 3,605 infections were reported in Zimbabwe, a relatively small proportion of the 15 million population, but a tenfold increase from the previous week. The omikron variant has now been identified 50 times in the country. In Swaziland, infection rates, which are still relatively low, have risen by more than 1,500 per cent, the fastest increase worldwide.
The new variant is found in more and more countries. So far, 40 countries have reported at least one omicron infection, including the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. In the Netherlands, the mutation was detected in 18 passengers who arrived on a flight from South Africa last week, but also in two samples taken earlier.
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