South Africa has lifted a nighttime curfew on people’s movement with immediate effect, a minister announced on Friday, as authorities believe COVID-19 cases are on the decline in the country.

Citing experts, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele said in a televised media briefing, that the omicron variant has surpassed the peak in South Africa. “So, the curfew is now lifted as we monitor the situation.”

According to the Health Ministry, there was a 29.7% decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases detected in the week ending Dec. 25.

South Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 infections on the continent. The country has so far reported 3.45 million cases and 91,061 fatalities.

“While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalization than in previous waves. This means that the country has a spare capacity for admission of patients even for routine health services. There is a marginal increase in the number of deaths in all the provinces,” a government statement said on Thursday.

As many as 1,000 people are now allowed to gather indoors and 2,000 people outdoors.

“Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the venue may be used,” the government said.

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