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South Africa Health Ministry Spokesman: Omicron death figures cited by Israel health officials not based on actual data from South Africa

Dec 24, 2021

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04:48 AM

'South African Department of Health has no figures on numbers of Omicron deaths, or whether recent fatalities were caused by Omicron or Delta variant'

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South African Department of Health spokesman Foster Mohale today told Israel National News that figures cited by Israeli media outlets and Health Ministry officials regarding Omicron deaths are not based on any actual data from South Africa.

The statement came in response to a query after a claim by Israel Health Ministry public health director Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis was quoted by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, according to which a total of 32 children have died thus far from Omicron. 

The claim was challenged by Finance Minister Avidgor Liberman, however, who denied the figure, stating that only 12 confirmed deaths from Omicron had been recorded worldwide.

"So far, in the entire world, around 12 people have died of Omicron,” Liberman was quoted by Channel 12 as saying. “As far as seriously ill patients, we have 81 seriously ill patients, 41 of them on respirators. In terms of the Omicron’s impact, I don’t see how this has more of an impact that the flu. Just as we live with the flu, right now we’re living with the Omicron. I don’t think it makes sense right now to take new steps, like limiting people – 100 people, 300 people.”

“A cursory investigation into the number of Omicron deaths reveals that Alroy-Preis’ claims, as well as the figures cited in the media, are based on speculation, rather than official data,” wrote Israel National News' David Rosenberg.

South Africa Health Department Spokesman Foster Mohale told Israel National News that figures cited by Israeli media outlets and Health Ministry officials regarding Omicron deaths are “not based on any actual data from South Africa.”

 

SARS-CoV-2 deaths have not been tracked by variant, Mohale explained, and “the South African Department of Health has no figures on the numbers of Omicron deaths, or whether recent fatalities were caused by Omicron or the Delta variant.”

"It appears, then, that all SARS-CoV-2-related deaths reported in South Africa since late November were claimed to be Omicron fatalities, with Israeli health officials counting all COVID deaths in South Africa in recent weeks as Omicron-related," concluded Rosenberg.

"Yet despite the massive spike in cases in South Africa – caused in large part to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant – the average number of deaths per day has remained low.

“Based on this and other data, the World Health Organization reported that the Omicron variant thus far appears to be ‘less severe’ than other strains.”

Israel's Health Ministry did not respond to an Israel National News request for comment.

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