Scientists in South Africa have revealed that there has been a “scary increase” of the new variant by 403% in just a week.
On Tuesday South Africa recorded 4,473 cases in one day of the new variant and 86% of patients in hospital with Omicron have not been vaccinated and the past two weeks cases are skyrocketing.
Leading virologist Professor Tulio de Oliveira tweeted, “Goodness me! Scary increase of cases and positivity rate in South Africa.
“Please keep safe, use a mask and go for vaccination as 1,000s of scientists in the world try to understand better.”
Hospitalisations in Gauteng has soared by 300% just this week with 40% of the people have been vaccinated.
Gauteng is one of the smallest provinces in South Africa which has a population of around 13m people.
Over the weekend virologist Marc van Ranst said, “If the Omicron variant is less pathogenic but with greater infectivity, allowing Omicron to replace Delta, this would be very positive.”
Omicron has more than 30 mutations, which is twice the amount of the Delta variant which is currently the more dominant strain in the UK, which makes the new variant more transmissible and only emerged on 11 November.
Scientific experts who advise the British government have given a stark warning that Omicron could have “very serious consequences” for the UK as it would likely be capable of ‘initiating a new wave of infections.”
The warning comes after scientists from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) held an emergency meeting to discuss B.1.1.529, known as Omicron.
The meeting was observed by a key Department of Health official and England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, who also warned, “We cannot exclude that this wave would be of a magnitude similar, or even larger, than previous waves.
“Although data on disease severity associated with B.1.1.529 are not yet available, a large wave of infections will be accompanied by a wave of severe cases and the subgroup cannot rule out that this may be sufficient to overwhelm NHS capacity.”