Covid cases have increased in South Africa, increasing fears of a possible fifth wave.
South Africa has seen a significant spike in Covid cases, increasing fears that the country is on the verge of experiencing the fifth wave of infections.
This week, the coronavirus test positivity rate in South Africa reached its highest level in more than three months, indicating that the number of infections that have gone undetected may be increasing.
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 4,406 new cases on Thursday evening (21 April), with 27,875 tests conducted in the previous 24 hours. This represents a 15.8% positivity rate.
With many cases of the virus going undiagnosed, the positivity rate is seen as an indication of how fast the disease is spreading. Countries from South Africa to India are reporting rising infections, while experts are cautioning against dropping the mandate for people to wear masks on US aeroplanes as the virus lingers.
“The public should exercise caution in interpreting these data as there may be changes in test patterns. An early warning indicator, wastewater detection surveillance, shows an increase in Gauteng,” said NICD executive director, prof Adrian Puren.
He also stated that there is no evidence that the Omicron version of concern is displacing the main circulating form at this time.
The spike is also not entirely unexpected, as both the government and the commercial sector had predicted an increase in infections around the end of April and the beginning of May.
In a statement at the end of March, president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet said South Africans should remain vigilant as Covid-19 has not yet been ‘defeated’, and that the country faces a possible fifth wave of Covid infections in the coming weeks.
#COVID19UPDATE: 27,875 tests were conducted in the last 24hrs, with 4,406 new cases, which represents a 15.8% positivity rate. Today @HealthZA reports 65 deaths; of which 5 occurred in the past 24–48 hrs. Total fatalities are 100,276 to date: Read more https://t.co/0M0LjHX3vW pic.twitter.com/sxY6yfH2wd
— NICD (@nicd_sa) April 21, 2022
“Vaccination remains our best defence against the virus, and reduces the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death.
“Although infections and deaths currently remain low, we face a possible fifth wave in the coming weeks. The only defence we have is the scientific evidence showing the power of vaccines to save lives. Our country has already administered over 33 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccines.”
A fifth Covid wave in South Africa, according to Discovery CEO Adrian Gore, is anticipated to be far more benign and less violent than prior waves, but the company will nonetheless proceed with care.
According to Gore, Covid variations appear to emerge in lockstep, so there’s no reason to believe the next wave will be any less severe than the previous ones. He did say, though, that as time goes on, the virus is projected to grow more benign and endemic. According to these forecasts, a wave might hit South Africa by the end of April or early May.
“While it may be more severe, we still think this is unlikely; but it is a risk and, therefore, I think we need to be careful not to take a hard view. The overriding position as a planner or business leader is to expect the best but plan for the worst and make sure you can survive some severity of a wave.”