South Africa top doc stresses that Omicron brings 'mild illness'

12 December 2021, 16:05

SA Medical Association head

By Seán Hickey

The head of the South African Medical Association refreshed her claims that the Omicron variant is 'mild' having spent one month treating patients with it.

Dr Angelique Coetzee spoke to Tom Swarbrick a fortnight after her initial appearance on LBC where she told him that the West was overreacting to Omicron.

She echoed her initial claims that Omicron is a relatively "mild" variant of coronavirus, which sees greater transmission yet lower rates of hospitalisation.

Read more: Daily lateral flow tests for a week for double jabbed Covid contacts

Tom defended the UK's new rules for the sake of argument: "We don't know, and so the most cautionary thing to do is to make sure that hospitals are not overwhelmed if it's not mild, and so we put in these additional measures.

Read more: Reaction to Omicron 'totally over the top', says South Africa top doc

"Do you think that's a reasonable response?"

"This is now our fourth week, there's no reason you can't trust us when we say to you 'it's mild disease!'" Dr Coetzee insisted.

'How worried should we be about this new Omicron variant?'

Read more: Universities fuelled Omicron outbreak, says South African Health Minister

She said that whilst she understands the precautions the UK is taking, "there's really no need" to reenter lockdown over the Omicron variant.

"Yes, you can have a million cases, you can have even more than that, but the severity of the disease is mild", she said again.

Read more: Covid booster jabs extended to over 30s as NHS steps up fight against Omicron

Tom wondered what restrictions South Africa was under while Omicron spread, suggestying that such measures may be behind the lack of severe reaction.

Dr Coetzee said that her country had curfew measures and limits on large events in place, but added that after one month the case rate in South Africa is already decreasing.

"It's mild disease. Speak with our specialists in our hospitals, private sector and public sector, you will hear the same story."

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