Omicron drives rise in hospitalizations in South African hot spot

The emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in South Africa has driven a sharp increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations in the country’s hot-spot province over the past two weeks, although fewer patients are being treated for severe disease, the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said.

There has also been an unusually high number of hospitalizations of children under 2 years old around the capital, Pretoria, where cases started rising first, although some of these may be precautionary, the institute said.

Overall, the proportion of people diagnosed with Covid-19 who have been admitted to hospital over the past two weeks is in line with other waves of infection in South Africa, which were driven by other variants, said Waasila Jassat, a public-health specialist at the NICD…

The average number of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 a day in Gauteng province—home to both Pretoria and the economic capital, Johannesburg—jumped to 49 during the two weeks ended Nov. 27, according to the NICD data. In the previous two weeks, the average daily number of Covid-19 admissions was 18. The number of daily deaths hasn’t changed, the data showed.