(Bloomberg) --

The reproductive number, an indicator of how fast the coronavirus spreads, almost doubled in South Africa last month as an outbreak of the omicron variant took hold.

The measure rose to 2.55 on Nov. 27 from 1.37 on Nov. 17, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in a report on Wednesday. The number means each infected person on average transmitted the disease to another 2.55 people. 

The data is the latest indicator of how quickly the virus has spread in South Africa since the onset of omicron, which was first detected last month. 

The gauge was at 3.06 in the commercial hub of Gauteng, the epicenter of the outbreak that’s home to Johannesburg and Pretoria. The number more than doubled to 1.63 in the Western Cape, where Cape Town is located, and rose to 2.18 from 1.23 in the northern province of Limpopo. The rate rose in eight of nine provinces, falling slightly in the sparsely populated Northern Cape.

South Africa announced the discovery of omicron on Nov. 25 and daily infection numbers have since surged. International markets have been roiled and travel bans imposed on South Africa and its neighbors.


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