Surge in patients with new variant of Omicron virus in South Africa

Author:Rebecca (一切心皆不可得!)

South Africa has confirmed fewer than 250 cases of omicron, but in recent days the number of new daily cases has exploded to 16K+ over the past week, Bloomberg reports.

Source: Worldometer

It’s the largest number of new daily cases in the country since July.

Here’s summary what 7 doctors on the ground are saying about the situation.


Marc Mendelson, the head of infectious diseases at the University of Cape Town, who also works at Groote Schuur Hospital, where the world’s first heart transplant took place:

  • “Anecdotally, we are seeing a lot of reinfections. What we don’t know at the moment, because we haven‘t got the data yet, is how many of those people are un-vaccinated versus the vaccinated.”


Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare Ltd., which operates the largest private health-care network in South Africa:

  • Omicron is highly contagious, but the patient’s symptoms are relatively mild and not severe, like the Spanish flu. It is assumed that this may signal that the end of the new coronavirus is near.


Shabir Madhi, a vaccinologist from the University of the Witwatersrand, who led trials of both AstraZeneca Plc’s and Novavax Inc.’s shots in South Africa:

  • Omicron appears to be spreading faster than Delta, and although the total number of cases will likely be higher, the number of hospitalizations and deaths will be lower than what we experienced in the first three waves of the outbreak.


Anne von Gottberg, a clinical microbiologist at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases:

  • All data show that the clinical course of the disease in children is not as severe. We believe that with reinfection, the disease will become less severe。


Adrian Puren, acting executive director of the NICD:

  • “While there are large numbers of cases and evidence of increased hospitalizations, large-scale sequencing would show if this variant is starting to fully displace the delta variant. Current evidence shows that omicron accounts for about 75% of the variants in circulation overall.”
  • “If it does displace the delta variant, we’d need to see if this is the result of immune evasion or because of increased transmissibility.”


Leon Geffen, a general practitioner in Cape Town’s Sea Point suburb and director of the Samson Institute for Ageing Research:

  • “We are seeing a massive upsurge in the total number of cases,” he said. “People are mostly presenting with coughs and upper respiratory tract infections.”


Anthony Smith, a general practitioner in Cape Town:

  • “It was like a tap being turned on from Thursday or Friday last week. It’s been mostly young people, but there have been some older people, probably around 20%.”
  • “Most of the kids have got it at communal events. They are from a younger demographic and presenting with milder symptoms, mainly sore throats and respiratory phenomenon. But, even in older people, it’s been relatively mild.”
  • No-one has been even close to being seriously ill. But it’s probably too early to tell if this will be a milder variant.”


【The article is the author’s personal opinion only】

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