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the coronavirus crisis

South Africa 'may have passed the peak' of Omicron wave

Authorities in South Africa say the peak of the country's fourth wave of COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant appears to have passed, according to The Washington Post

"All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level," a statement said following a cabinet meeting, per The Guardian. "While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalization than in previous waves." 

The cabinet said the "marginal increase" in fatalities was low compared to prior COVID-19 waves, per the Post, and the country is now easing some COVID-19 restrictions. The Omicron variant of COVID-19 was originally identified in South Africa. The country saw 89,781 infections during the week ending on Dec. 25, down from 127,753 a week prior, BBC News reports

The news comes as the United States on Thursday again shattered its record for daily COVID-19 cases with more than 580,000, up from 488,000 the day prior.