South African health authorities have decided to retain the country’s lockdown level at its lowest in a five-tier system even as the country battles the Omicron variant of Covid-19, Reuters reported.

South Africa’s National Coronavirus Command Council has maintained the lockdown at “adjusted level 1”. The council comprises members of an inter-ministerial committee that is dealing with the pandemic, and is said to be at the centre of the country’s decision-making on Covid-19.

The country’s health department said that the council has directed it to closely monitor the rise in coronavirus infections. The department added that it will also monitor hospital admissions, death and recovery rates.

South Africa has been reporting over 20,000 daily new Covid-19 cases for the past few days. On Wednesday, the country registered a record 26,976 new cases in a day, according to a Reuters report. The previous highest figure was 26,485, recorded in early July during the country’s third wave of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, South Africa also reported 54 more deaths due to the coronavirus and 620 new hospital admissions.

UK reports record high single-day cases

Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom also hit a record high on Wednesday, as the country registered 78,610 new infections, The Guardian reported.

Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, urged people to cut back on socialising ahead of Christmas, and advised them to “prioritise social interactions that really matter to them”.

On Monday, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said that at least one person had died in the country after being infected with the Omicron variant of Covid-19. He had said that the new variant now accounts for 40% of infections in London.

On Wednesday, a record 5,48,039 booster shots were administerd in the United Kingdom, Secretary of State for Health Sajid Javid said.

Last month, the World Health Organization classified Omicron as a variant of concern. It said that preliminary evidence suggested an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other variants of concern.

A “variant of concern” has the highest threat perception among other coronavirus variants because of its increased transmissibility, infectivity, or resistance to vaccines.

The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa on November 24.