Experts hope the number of Omicron variant cases in Australia will peak in the coming weeks as overseas data shows new infections are decreasing.
New data from South Africa has sparked hope the fourth wave of COVID-19 may soon be over after the country recorded a rapid decline in cases.

The latest numbers show South African cases have dropped by 30 per cent in the last week to fewer than 11,500 cases a day.

Many COVID-19 testing sites are turning people around before opening.
South African cases have begun to decline sparking hope for other countries suffering severe outbreaks. (Bloomberg)

The nation recorded more than 37,000 infections at the height of the outbreak in early December.

South African health authorities now believe they may have passed the peak of the Omicron outbreak.

Australia to reach peak in one to three weeks

Australia reached a record high of COVID-19 cases today, reporting 47,738 infections nationwide.

“Those significant case numbers, they do continue to rise. They are large numbers that we’ve never before seen in Australia,” Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Sonya Bennett said.

“I think at this point, we all know somebody who’s either got COVID or we’ve got co-workers off work.”

People queue for a COVID-19 test at St Vincent's Hospital in Fitzroy.
People queue for a COVID-19 test at St Vincent’s Hospital in Fitzroy. (Scott McNaughton)

Hospital cases around the country are at 362, with the number of people in ICU at 194.

Infectious diseases expert Professor Robert Booy said Australia is not far off seeing the peak of Omicron variant infections.

“We’ll see a peak in Australia within weeks during January in different parts of Australia. Sydney will probably peak first then Melbourne and then other parts of Australia will follow soon after,” he said.

It’s understood hospitalisations usually peak a week later than the height of case numbers.

Omicron has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Australia, however, there are still many cases of Delta still in the country, largely in New South Wales and Victoria.

UK Omicron wave may soon decline

Meanwhile, the South African data has prompted speculation that the UK may soon be heading down a similar path where COVID-19 cases begin to decline.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 23: A person walks into a Covid-19 testing centre on December 23, 2021 in London, England. Yesterday, the government reported that it administered 1.06 million first, second and third Covid-19 vaccine jabs, of which 968,665 were boosters. More than half of its adult population has received a booster now, as it races to head off a surge of infections driven by the virus's more contagious Omicron variant. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
The South African data shows the UK may also reach the peak of COVID-19 cases soon. (Getty)

UK health authorities have predicted their peak in hospital admissions will be this week or next week.

Daily cases in the UK are however continuing to climb, currently sitting at 162,572.

Authorities said they are starting to see some stabilisation of hospital numbers in London.

US continues to see a surge of Omicron variant infections

The US is continuing to record a surge in COVID-19 cases and the country is now averaging 400,000 new infections each day.

More than 103,000 people are currently hospitalised with the virus in the US, the first time the total has reached six figures in nearly four months.

A sign on display advises the public to the requirements of face masks.

How Australia faced the emergence of the Omicron variant

US researchers said their modelling also shows Omicron could be short-lived, with research showing the country may reach the peak within weeks rather than months.

Source: 9News

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