JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s drop in new COVID-19 cases in recent days may signal the country’s dramatic omicron-driven surge has passed its peak, medical experts say. Although the early findings are not conclusive, especially because daily figures are prone to fluctuations, the signs that South Africa’s intense wave is weakening are notable. The world is intently watching because South Africa is where omicron was first identified and where the variant first spiked infections. After hitting a high of nearly 27,000 new cases nationwide on Thursday, the numbers dropped to about 15,424 on Tuesday. In Gauteng province — South Africa’s most populous with 16 million people, including the largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria — the decrease started earlier and has continued.
Photo: Scientists at the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, work on the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus Wednesday Dec. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)