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Omicron cases less severe, hospitalisation lower: S.Africa study

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) A latest Omicron study from the epicentre in South Africa has revealed that there were fewer hospitalisations and less severe symptoms compared to previous Covid-19 waves in the country.

South Africa's Gauteng Province -- the epicentre of the Omicron infection -- has already shown a decrease in Covid cases, according to the country's epidemiological update.

Now, a new pre-print study (yet to be peer-reviewed) published in the Lancet that looked at cases through the first four weeks of the Omicron-dominated fourth wave in Gauteng, found that "unlike the pattern observed in the Beta and Delta waves, the rise in cases during the Omicron wave was not accompanied by a concomitant rise in hospital admissions".

The study described the clinical severity of patients hospitalised with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and compared this to the first four weeks of the Beta-dominated second and Delta-dominated third waves in Gauteng Province.

There were 41,046, 33,423, and 133,551 SARS-CoV-2 cases in the second, third and fourth waves, respectively.

"About 4.9 per cent of cases were admitted to hospital during the fourth wave compared to 18.9 per cent and 13.7 per cent during the second and third waves," the findings showed.

During the fourth wave, 28.8 per cent of admissions were severe disease compared to 60.1 per cent and 66.9 per cent in the second and third waves.

"Admitted patients in the Omicron-dominated fourth wave were 73 per cent less likely to have severe disease than patients admitted during the delta-dominated third wave," the study noted.

The proportion of cases admitted was lower and those admitted were less severe during the first four weeks of the Omicron-dominated fourth wave in Gauteng province of South Africa, said the researchers.

South Africa has already lifted certain curbs, like night-time curfew, believing that the country has passed the peak of its fourth Covid wave.

"All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level," according to a latest statement from a special cabinet meeting in the country.

"While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves," the statement had said.