Omicron is a mild disease, said Dr Angelique Coetzee of the South African Medical Association in an LBC interview today.
Coetzee, the first South African doctor to alert authorities about patients with the omicron variant, insisted that: “There’s no reason why you can’t trust us when we say to you [Omicron is] a mild disease.”
She acknowledged that there would be some sick patients, but said “it will be the minority”.
Patients “recover within about five days whether you are a child, 80 years of age, whether you’ve been vaccinated or not,” Coetzee explained.
Her comments come as the UK re-enters pandemic restrictions following a wave of Omicron cases. The first people to be hospitalised with Omicron infections have also been reported today by the BBC, according to education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, who has warned that the new Covid-19 variant now accounts for a third of cases in London.
But Coetzee said, based on the experience in South Africa over the last four weeks, “there’s no need to hospitalise any of these mild cases. There’s really no need.”
“The severity of the disease is not delta. It is mild disease,” she said of the new Covid-19 variant, which was first detected by researchers in Southern Africa at the end of November.
“Our ICUs are not full. Our public sector hospitals have seen an increase but they don’t have a lot of beds.”
South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed that only around 30 per cent of people hospitalised with Covid in recent weeks have been seriously ill – less than half the rate compared to the first weeks of previous waves of the pandemic.