South Africa officials signaled Thursday that the country had passed its Omicron peak, offering some signs of hope as the US and other countries weather their latest COVID-19 surges.
The South African government announced it was lifting a midnight to 4 a.m. curfew, as new cases dropped more than 29 percent in the week before Christmas, Reuters reported.
“All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at the national level,” said a statement from a special cabinet meeting.
The country, where Omicron was first detected, also announced it will restore full license privileges for eligible alcohol shops that are open late. Masking up remains a requirement and is punishable by law.
“While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalization than in previous waves,” the statement said.
The decision to lift the curfew was based on the declining cases, as well as vaccination rates and hospital-system capacity, an official told the news service.
As South Africa appears to be emerging from its latest wave, new cases in the US are setting new records, with an average more than 265,000 per day.
Several US states are experiencing strained health care systems, while the coronavirus continues to deplete the public and private workforce. But the availability of vaccines and boosters, combined with apparent mild symptoms associated with Omicron, has served as a bit of positive news amid growing concerns and a soaring number of cases.
Vaccine maker Johnson & Johnson announced preliminary results from a study Thursday that showed its booster shot was 85 percent effective against hospitalizations in South Africa as the Omicron strain took hold in November and December, The Associated Press reported.
With Post wires