(Bloomberg) -- South African excess deaths, a measure of mortality above a historical average, almost doubled in the week ending Nov. 28 from the preceding seven-day period as a new coronavirus variant spread across the country. 

During the period 2,076 more people died than would normally be expected, the South African Medical Research Council said in a report on Wednesday. That compares with 1,091 the week earlier.

The rise, while only reflecting a week of data, jibes with hospitalization data that shows that most admissions have mild forms of the coronavirus, spurring hope that the omicron variant is more benign than earlier strains. 

Excess deaths are seen as a more accurate measure of the impact of Covid-19 than official deaths. While South Africa’s official coronavirus death toll is just over 90,000 the number of excess deaths during the pandemic is 275,000. During the week to Nov. 28 just 174 deaths were officially attributed to the respiratory disease. 

Still, the weekly deaths are well below their peak of about 15,500 in mid-January, at the height of the second wave of infections. 

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