Latest Covid hospital data show there were 1,198 new admissions with Covid in the U.K. on April 27th (60% of which were incidental), which marked a 19% decrease on the previous week and a fall for the 22nd day in a row, as the Omicron BA.2 wave continues to decline. However, news of a rise in reported infections and hospital admissions in South Africa linked to new variants has raised questions of what might come next. MailOnline has more.
A delay to the Government’s dashboard update on bank holiday Monday means today’s stats include four days’ worth of numbers – after ministers stopped publishing the figures on weekends following ‘Freedom Day’.
It shows there were 35,635 new positive Covid tests over the last four days, working out at an average of just 8,900 daily cases since Friday. There were also 407 total deaths, equivalent of just over 100 daily.
Case numbers logged by the central testing scheme are becoming increasingly unreliable now that free swabs have been stopped for the vast majority of Britons.
Meanwhile, latest Covid hospital data show there were 1,198 new admissions for the virus on April 27th, which marked a near-19% decrease on the previous week.
Daily hospitalisations have now fallen for 22 days in a row – despite NHS leaders calling for masks and outdoor mixing to return just weeks ago.
Pressure is mounting on the U.K. to scrap its daily Covid stats after Ireland said it would discontinue its updates in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, South Africa has once again become a focal point of the pandemic amid a fresh Covid surge of new subvariants. Covid cases have nearly quadrupled in a month nationally and hospital admissions are ticking up in Gauteng province, the former epicentre of the original Omicron wave.
The world watched in horror last November as the super-infectious Omicron strain (BA.1) spread through South Africa at unprecedented speed – which turned out to be mild. But now the country finds itself at the cusp of a fresh explosion in infections, this time due to sub-strains that appear even more transmissible and resistant to antibodies.
Researchers on the ground in South Africa say the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants can evade immunity and cause symptoms in people who were infected with their parent strain just months ago. What is still unclear is whether the new wave will create milder or more severe illness — but experts tell MailOnline the former is more likely, for the U.K. at least.
South Africa skipped the Omicron BA.2 wave, but is now the first with the new subvariants – though this is unlikely to do much more than create a new wave (or ripple) of mostly sniffles.
There has also been a lull in infections since the original Omicron wave collapsed in South Africa in January, whereas the U.K.’s case rates spiralled again over spring.
There are now nearly 4,800 new Covid infections per day in South Africa, on average, compared to around 1,300 this time last month. Nationally there are about 1,400 weekly daily hospital admissions for the virus, broadly unchanged from a month ago, but it takes several weeks for any trend to play out. In Gauteng province, home to Johannesburg, admissions have doubled in a month.
However, more than 90% of South Africans are estimated to have natural immunity against Covid, which could limit the pressure on hospitals.
Professor [Paul] Hunter told MailOnline he expects BA.4 and BA.5 to become dominant in the U.K. unless another completely new variant arises.
“I suspect that unless something else comes along, one or both of these variants will become dominant in the UK but I can’t predict how big a surge of infections that would lead to,” he said.
“It is also likely that we will still have robust protection against severe disease for most of us.”
Worth reading in full.