Memorial Hospital gives update on Covid hospitalizations and Omicron variant

Published 11:28 am Tuesday, January 4, 2022

It has been a few weeks since the discovery of the Omicron variant of coronavirus in South Africa, and while other strains like Delta caused concern over their potential severity, Omicron has largely had less severe symptoms.

The Post-Searchlight reached out to Lee Johnson, Infection Prevention Coordinator at Memorial Hospital, for an update on how many, if any, new Covid cases were of the Omicron variant. “We can test for Covid, but we can’t test for the variants,” Johnson said. “We don’t have that capability.”

While the hospital does not have the capability to distinguish between variants, according to Johnson, based on the severity of the symptoms, most new cases are likely Omicron.

“We are having an uptick in positive cases, but only a slight increase in hospitalization,” Johnson continued. According to his figures, within the week since last Thursday, as of the writing of this article, there were a total of 135 positive patients out of 300 tests, but only four were hospitalized. (These figures did not include all tests from doctor’s offices.)

According to Johnson, many elderly people, who remain the greatest risk, are vaccinated. However, he also reported that some hospital employees who were vaccinated tested positive for Covid, with some being asymptomatic, while others had mild symptoms. Johnson said that there were very few who were asymptomatic with previous strains.

He also still encouraged vaccination, saying, “Protect yourself, protect others, get vaccinated. That’s still the best defense to protect yourself with.”