Britain has now reported more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases, while staff shortages have expanded at England’s hospitals, clinics, rail services, fire departments, and ambulance services. Meanwhile, Israel now offers four vaccine doses.

In more uplifting news, after the omicron variant sent cases skyrocketing to record levels in South Africa, cases have started falling and are down by more than 20% over the last week.

“This is encouraging and quite optimistic in terms of the decreasing trends and case numbers,” said Dr. Michelle Groome, an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

She added, though, that case figures may have been affected by reduced testing over the holiday season.

In Gauteng Province, the heart of South Africa’s latest outbreak, new infections seem to have peaked in the last week, Groome said. Three more of South Africa’s nine provinces also reported decreases, while the country’s coastal provinces are still reporting increases in new cases.

Early-data studies from Gauteng Province have shown that omicron cases tend to be less severe than those associated with the earlier variants. There’s also a “downward trend” in patients needing critical care and in deaths from Covid, said Dr. Waasila Jassat, a public health specialist at the institute.

More than 44% of the country’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, but the daily pace of new vaccinations has fallen short of the government’s goals.

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