Concerns are mounting that South Africa could soon be in the midst of the fifth wave of COVID-19 infections, possibly driven by new sub variants of Omicron.
Daily COVID-19 infections recorded over the last 24-hour period have registered at over 1900, which represents a 19.3 percent test positivity rate, meaning the spread of the virus is no longer under control.
Health experts say the best way to prevent serious illness or even death is to get vaccinated. Most new cases were picked up in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.
COVID-19 | Increase in South Africa’s daily COVID-19 cases:
Professor Musa Mashabela from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal says there have been indications of a fifth wave since March.
Mashabela says, “We knew then that we are going to start to see cases rise because usually that form of surveillance is sort of a leading detector of cases that might begin to increase, so since then, I mean this week we’ve really seen a rapid doubling of cases, doubling of positivity rate. We’ve seen also now cases that are becoming a little bit more severe being admitted in hospital in the last day or so. Hospitalisation is also beginning to spike. This to us makes it clear that we are seeing a new sort of a wave of infections of COVID-19.”
The National Institute For Communicable Diseases Of South Africa (NICD), last week, indicated that the country’s coronavirus test positivity rate climbed to the highest in more than three months.
Deputy General for the Department of Health Dr Nicholas Crisp says there is also a noticeable increase in the number of people being hospitalised with COVID-19, majority of which are unvaccinated.
Crisp says, “We are seeing hospitalisations, we are seeing children being hospitalised, we’re seeing a lot of young people, the numbers are still small, of the people who are being admitted, it’s unvaccinated people. We’ve warned repeatedly that just thinking that you may have wild virus immunity, because there’s wild virus immunity in the community is not sufficient. We don’t know how long those antibodies last for, and we don’t know how protective they are.”
COVID-19 I Fears of a 5th wave rising as positive cases increase in South Africa:
Some experts say the fifth wave has already hit South Africa’s shores. Clinical leader for the COVID-19 Response Team and Pretoria University’s specialist, Professor Veronica Ueckermann says, “We are seeing signals of the onset of the fifth wave, we have anticipated the fifth wave to be around about May. We know that as we head towards winter we are expecting an increase in numbers together with some of the relaxed regulations that we’ve seen.”
“We have been anticipating that we would see an increase in numbers. Over the last week, we’ve seen a significance rise in the number of positive tests and the percentage of positivity. We’ve also seen some increase in the number of cases we’re seeing at our hospitals, our admissions have increased slightly but not as significantly as some other waves yet, so this is probably the start of the fifth wave,” added Ueckermann.
Over 100 000 people have succumbed to COVID-19 related complications to date .