The latest data provided by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has revealed that new case figures for KwaZulu-Natal officially top Gauteng’s.
Gauteng has consistently remained at the top of the new Covid-19 case load, more so with the advent of the fourth wave, and the Omicron variant.
KZN saw 4,202 new cases on 18 December, accounting for 26% of the total number of cases, with Gauteng at 3,430, making up 21% of the country’s cases.
The Western Cape tallied just under 3,000 new cases, bringing the total of new Covid cases to 16,080.
The NICD said positive new cases on Saturday is 28.8%, slightly lower than Friday’s 30.4%.
215 people were admitted to hospital over the past 24 hours, and 48 Covid-related deaths were recorded.
Scientists remain uncertain how dangerous the highly mutated Omicron variant is, but early data suggests it can be more resistant to vaccines and is more transmissible than the Delta variant.
Countries worldwide have begun advising against foreign travel while ramping up domestic restrictions to battle the variant.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen has warned that the Omicron variant could be dominant in Europe by mid-January.
Egypt on Saturday confirmed it had detected its first three cases of the Omicron variant. One of the three Egyptians presented mild symptoms, while the other two had none.
The Netherlands said it will go into “lockdown” over the Christmas period to try to stop a surge of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed on Saturday.
All non-essential shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums and theatres must shut from Sunday until January 14, while schools must close until at least January 9, Rutte said.
The number of guests that people are allowed in their house is also being cut from four to two, except for Christmas Day on December 25.
On Friday, Germany designated France and Denmark as high-risk zones and said unvaccinated travellers would have to quarantine.
France said Thursday that it would ban non-essential travel to and from Britain in a bid to keep the Omicron Covid-19 variant in check, as European leaders urged coordinated action and more booster shots to counter the more highly contagious threat.
Paris will also be calling off its New Year fireworks as Europe braced for tighter curbs.
Ireland is ordering bars and restaurants to close at 8:00 pm, Denmark is shutting cinemas and other venues and London mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” to allow institutions more leeway in tackling the upsurge.
Compiled by Nica Richards. Additional reporting by AFP