Omicron Triggers ‘Unprecedented' COVID Surge Hitting Under 5s in South Africa

EMMANUEL CROSET/AFP via Getty Images

The “highly transmissible” Omicron variant of coronavirus ripping through South Africa is putting disproportionately large numbers of children under the age of 5 years old in hospitals, a top South African government medical adviser said Friday.

The alarming development raises the prospect of a new global battle cycle against the virus, given that the new variant has already spread to dozens of countries. The South African scientists also said the new variant was spreading much quicker than any previous wave of the coronavirus.

In a worrying virtual press conference, government adviser Waasila Jassat, speaking about the worst-affected area of Gauteng province that contains the city of Johannesburg, said: “It’s clear in Gauteng, the week-on-week increase we’re seeing in cases and admissions is higher than we’ve seen it before. We’ve seen quite a sharp increase [in hospital admissions] across all age groups but particularly in the under 5s.”

She added: “The incidence in those under 5 is now second highest, second only to those over 60. The trend that we’re seeing now, that is different to what we’ve seen before, is a particular increase in hospital admissions in children under 5 years.

“We’ve always seen children not being very heavily affected by the COVID epidemic in the past, not having many admissions. In the third wave, we saw more admissions in young children under 5 and in teenagers, 15-19, and now, at the start of this fourth wave, we have seen quite a sharp increase across all age groups, but particularly in the under 5s.”

Jassat produced graphs that clearly showed how children under 5 years old are now being hospitalized at an alarming rate.

She said, for example, that in the city of Tshwane Metro, more than 100 children under the age of 5 were admitted to hospitals with COVID in the first two weeks of the new fourth wave (Nov. 14 to 27). In the first two weeks of the country’s third wave, in May of this year, fewer than 20 children were admitted to hospitals.

In a follow-up question-and-answer session, asked about the extraordinary numbers of children being admitted to hospital, Jassat said she suspected there might be an “immunity gap” and that the lack of vaccination of children might account for the numbers.

She said that with adults increasingly vaccinated, children are the ones who are “getting sick and need to be admitted.”

She added that pediatricians at the Tshwane hospital had told them, anecdotally, that “all” of the children ages 12-18 who were admitted were not vaccinated, even though they were eligible. “And the younger children, younger than 12, who were not eligible for vaccination, none of their parents, except for three, were vaccinated.”

She said this showed “the value of vaccination in the adult protecting the children in the homes.”

Just over 42 percent of all adults have received at least one vaccination dose in South Africa, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said.

Another specialist, epidemiologist Michelle Groome, told the virtual meeting that daily hospital admissions in the worst-affected parts of Gauteng province have rocketed to 78 from 19.

Groome sounded the alarm over the “rapidly increasing” seven-day average of cases which has gone from 332 on Dec. 1 to 4,814 today.

She said: “If you have a look at the slope of this increase, you can see that we really are seeing an unprecedented increase in the number of new cases in a very short period of time, really just climbing right up.”

She said the virus’ reproductive number—a measure of how many people each infected person infects—had climbed to 2.33 in Gauteng.

Groome said: “This is the highest we’ve ever seen it since the start of the pandemic.”

Phaahla said daily cases have rocketed by 9,000 cases per day, climbing from “2,465 new cases last Thursday when this variant was announced to yesterday’s high of 11,535.”

“This variant is indeed highly transmissible, including in people who have already been vaccinated,” he said.

This remark echoed the findings of a paper published Friday, not yet peer-reviewed, which, The Washington Post reported, claims Omicron is three times as likely to cause reinfection than previous variants. The Post said: “Statistical analysis of some 2.8 million positive coronavirus samples in South Africa, 35,670 of which were suspected to be reinfections, led researchers to conclude that the Omicron mutation has a ‘substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection.’”

Phaahla attempted to sound an optimistic note by saying that he believes the new variant is more transmissible “but less severe” than previous variants.

He said that while vaccinated people are getting infected, a disproportionate number of those ending up in hospitals are not vaccinated and that the South African hospital system is coping for the time being and has spare capacity.

However, his remarks are likely to be treated with caution as hospitalizations tend to lag infections by several weeks, and the press conference left little doubt that the country is being pummeled by the Omicron variant.

He said the country’s COVID test positivity rate has soared to 22 percent from below 2 percent just two weeks ago.

Phaahla expressed his “outrage and disappointment” at travel bans on southern African nations, saying they “undermine international cooperation and solidarity.”

The UN has previously said such flight bans are a form of “travel apartheid” and could be counterproductive as they will dissuade nations from reporting new variants.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Yuvraj Singh-Hazel Keech welcome baby boy: Ayushmann Khurrana, Priety Zinta & others congratulate the couple

Actor Hazel Keech and former cricketer Yuvraj Singh took to their social media handles and shared good news with fans. The couple welcomed a baby boy on Tuesday. The exciting news ... Read more »

Bradley Cooper REVEALS the last time he went in for an audition

© Provided by Pinkvilla   It is no secret that big stars are above giving auditions. Established actors generally get offers for roles rather than go through with the rookie ... Read more »

Contract prepared: Journo drops big Rangers update that'll leave GVB buzzing - opinion

© Provided by Football FanCast Europa League – Group A – Rangers v Sparta Prague A big update has emerged on Rangers gem Alex Lowry regarding the Glasgow giants’ plans ... Read more »

Bigg Boss 15, 25th January 2022, Written Update: RJ Palak and RJ Karan question the contestants

© Provided by Pinkvilla In today’s episode, RJ Karan asks Nishant to decorate songs for others. RJ Palak asks Nishant about his bond with Karan. He tells he has played ... Read more »

Aaron Paul sees Bryan Cranston as his 'mentor'

© Bang Showbiz Aaron Paul has heaped praise on Bryan Cranston Aaron Paul considers Bryan Cranston to be his “mentor”. The 42-year-old actor starred alongside Bryan, 65, in the hit ... Read more »

Jana Duggar joined by brothers for family trip to Los Angeles

Jana Duggar has been joined by her mom Michelle and brothers Jason and James for a fun family trip to Los Angeles. The four flew into California to visit Jinger, ... Read more »

Russia Has Been Warning About Ukraine for Decades. The West Should Have Listened

When I was a journalist for The Times (London) in Moscow in December 1992, I saw a print-out of a speech by the then Russian foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, warning ... Read more »

‘I'm not overly concerned': Veteran talks about possibility of troops deploying overseas

© Provided by Wilmington WECT Local veteran talks about possibility of troops deploying overseas. WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – As tensions rise between Ukraine and Russia, many veterans are on high-alert, ... Read more »

If: The Office co stars Steve Carell and John Krasinski to share screen space in upcoming movie

© Provided by Pinkvilla   “The Office” co-stars Steve Carell and John Krasinski will reunite on-screen in Paramount’s upcoming film “If” for the first time since leaving Dunder Mifflin. The ... Read more »

Sudan frees medics held in crackdown on anti-coup protests

© Provided by The South African “During the evening of 24 January, nine MSF staff members were detained by the Sudanese authorities in the capital Khartoum,” the group said in ... Read more »

Power of podcasts: A cheaper business strategy for spoken word communication

Podcasting has boomed in the past few years, with everyone from big corporations to hobbyists considering starting one. Whether it’s the right strategy for businesses is another question. © Copyright ... Read more »

"Could be on the agenda": Journalist teases intriguing Wolves transfer hint for this window

© GiveMeSport Wolves boss Bruno Lage giving instructions to his players Journalist Ryan Taylor thinks Wolves may look to add a striker to their squad in the final week of ... Read more »

Trending OTT News today: Deepika Padukone trolled for her outfit, Baahubali – Before the Beginning canned and more

© Provided by BollywoodLife.com Deepika Padukone, Prabhas, Danish Sait and others are among the top newsmakers of today from OTT. If you have had a busy day and want to ... Read more »

Here's how Russia-Ukraine tensions are contributing to market volatility as the threat of war in Europe looms over investors

© Associated Press A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea on Jan. 18, 2022. Associated Press Energy and metals prices stand to extend gains if ... Read more »

BBC The Responder: Mark Womack's 9-year marriage to EastEnders' star ex

The first episode of new BBC cop drama The Responder aired last night and fans have rushed to say just how good it is. There have already been calls for ... Read more »

Thiago Silva reveals his Chelsea plans as defender outlines ambitions under Thomas Tuchel

Thiago Silva is determined to help motivate his Chelsea team-mates to triumph at next month’s FIFA Club World Cup. The Blues are looking to become world champions after their success ... Read more »

Anthony Martial could influence Man Utd managerial chase with Sevilla transfer clause

Anthony Martial is closing in on a reprieve to his Manchester United nightmare, with a loan move to Sevilla expected to be completed imminently. The Frenchman had made it abundantly ... Read more »

Liverpool's Sadio Mane suffers concussion scare as Senegal reach Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals

© AP Sadio Mane helped Senegal reach the quarter-finals, but was taken off following a clash of heads during the second half (Sunday Alamba/AP) – AP Liverpool forward Sadio Mane ... Read more »

Why Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes yelled 'do it' at Travis Kelce before huge play vs. Bills

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce have been teammates for a while now and have put up big numbers and won a Super Bowl together with the Chiefs. All ... Read more »

Chiefs-Bills, Packers-Niners thrilling playoff games score blockbuster TV ratings

The television ratings are in for this past weekend’s NFL playoff games — and they’re almost as spectacular as the games themselves. According to Fox Sports, Saturday’s prime-time thriller between ... Read more »

Zendaya Spends The Weekend With Tom Holland And His Family In London

Zendaya took a trip abroad to visit her boyfriend. The “Euphoria” star was spotted in London visiting Tom Holland and his family over the weekend. On Saturday night, the couple ... Read more »

Florida boat capsize – live: Coast Guard search for 39 people after ‘suspected human smuggling' boat overturns

© US Coast Guard United States China Taiwan LIVE – Updated at 19:58 The US Coast Guard is searching for 39 people who were on board a suspected people smuggling ... Read more »

Prayagraj police on the heels of missing history-sheeters

© Provided by Hindustan Times Photo for representation only (HT File Photo) The Prayagraj police has launched a massive drive against possible trouble-makers who may cause a disturbance during the upcoming ... Read more »

IATA calls on governments to remove all travel restrictions for fully vaccinated

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments around the world to remove all travel barriers for fully vaccinated travellers, calling current travel restrictions “a mess.” IATA urged governments ... Read more »

Oath Keeper leader pleads not guilty to January 6 charges

Washington — Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right militia group known as the Oath Keepers, and nine of his co-defendants pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges that they ... Read more »

Idaho estate from Marilyn Monroe's ‘Bus Stop' on sale for $15.99M

The 12-acre Sun Valley estate that served as the backdrop for scenes in 1956’s “Bus Stop” starring Marilyn Monroe is now up for grabs. Everett Collection/Jam Press/Engel & Völkers Sun ... Read more »

Ex-Union minister RPN Singh quits Congress, joins BJP

© Provided by The Times of India NEW DELHI: Former Union minister and a known face of Congress Kunwar Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh, popularly known as RPN, quit the party ... Read more »

Cheryl Hines condemns husband Robert F. Kennedy's anti-vaccine comments

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” actress Cheryl Hines has condemned her husband Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s comments about Anne Frank, who was murdered by Nazis as a teenager, which he made during ... Read more »

Honduras political crisis deepens ahead of president-elect's swearing-in

Rival factions of Honduras’ newly-elected congress held duelling first sessions Tuesday as a split in president-elect Xiomara’s Castro’s party deepened two days before her swearing-in. © Orlando SIERRA Libre party ... Read more »

Calgary home prices expected to keep climbing, even as hot market eases from record levels

Calgary’s hot housing market is expected to ease from last year’s record levels, but prices are forecast to continue rising as the market remains at stronger-than-historical levels, says a new industry outlook. The Calgary Real ... Read more »

Timnit Gebru is part of a wave of Black women working to change AI

Gebru said she was pushed out of her job at Google after pointing out how AI has been harmful to people of color. Now she's launching her own research institute. Read more »

Punjab assembly elections: AAP leader from Mohali joins Congress

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader from Shahimajra village, Bir Singh Bajwa, and his supporters joined the Congress on Tuesday in the presence of Mohali mayor Amarjit Singh Sidhu and deputy ... Read more »

CBS Tried to Recruit Brian Williams for Norah O'Donnell's 'Evening News' Slot – But He Declined (Report)

CBS News wanted recently departed MSNBC anchor Brian Williams to helm its nightly broadcast, according to a new report from CNN. Also according to that report, Williams said no — ... Read more »

Worker absenteeism — not trucker vaccine mandates — impacting store shelves: Metro

Vaccine mandates for truckers have raised transportation costs — but haven’t impacted the shipment of goods to stores, the head of one of Canada’s largest grocery chains says. © Provided ... Read more »

Investment planning: Four cardinal rules of asset allocation

© Provided by The Financial Express There are certain rules of asset allocation that no investor can ignore. By Hemanth Gorur Asset allocation is a way of determining how much ... Read more »

DCB Bank came out with innovative schemes to help farmers and small merchants

© Provided by The Times of India AMRAVATI: Keeping in view of the challenges posed by the farming community and small traders since the outbreak of Covid-19, DCB Bank has ... Read more »

At 70, Jane Seymour's Entire Bod Is Toned AF In A Brand New IG Photo

© Jane Seymour/Instagram At 70, Jane Seymour’s entire bod is toned AF as she sports a knockout pink swimsuit in a brand new IG photo. She does Pilates on the ... Read more »

Is Jorja Fox Really Leaving CSI: Vegas?

Larry Marano/Getty While “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” may have wrapped up in 2015 (via IMDb), the series was partially rebooted upon the premiere of “CSI: Vegas” in 2021. Whereas previous ... Read more »

IS militants surrender in Syria prison stand-off

© EPA The SDF is a US-backed militia alliance that controls much of northern and eastern Syria Kurdish-led forces in Syria say another 250 militants have surrendered as they work ... Read more »

Dem Rep. Cooper won't seek reelection after GOP map redraw

© Provided by Associated Press U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, talks to reporters at his Nashville office, Feb. 16, 2018. Tennessee Republicans plan to carve fast-growing Nashville into multiple congressional ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic