South Africa, the first country to discover omicron, says its current wave looks to be subsiding

Country “may have passed the peak of the fourth wave,” government says.
Capetown, South Africa
Capetown, South Africa
(Gerrit Jordaan/EyeEm/Getty)

The South African government this week said that the country’s current wave of SARS-CoV-2 omicron infections may be on the way out, weeks after the nation became the first in the world to identify the new variant.

“All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level,” the South African government said in a statement late this week.

The country became the center of international focus earlier in the fall when it was the first to identify the newly arisen omicron variant of the virus. 

That revelation led to a flurry of new restrictions and lockdowns around the world, including multiple travel bans to and from South Africa from major nations. 

Officials in South Africa had warned hasty action in response to the variant, arguing that early signs suggested it was a much milder form of the virus than earlier mutations. 

Evidence in the weeks since appears to have borne those earlier assumptions out, with omicron being postulated to be far less severe than notable variants such as Delta.