As omicron heats up in the U.S., South Africa says its wave is on the way out




Coronavirus restrictions have been loosened in South Africa as case numbers wane in the country, though the government says that there is still reason for caution.

“All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level,” the government said in a statement Thursday, adding that the risk of infection remains “given the high transmissibility of the omicron variant.”

South Africa was the first country to detect the omicron variant in November, and the subsequent wave drove the country’s seven-day rolling average of daily cases more than 70 times higher — from 327 on Nov. 17 to 23,437 a month later.

The government set an overnight curfew, restricted alcohol sales and capped public gatherings in an effort to slow the spread.

When the government relaxed those restrictions Thursday, ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations, the rolling average of daily cases was down more than half from the mid-December peak — to 10,324 — and still trending downward in nearly every part of the country.



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