Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, has announced that Gauteng has officially exited the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says 5 920 cases were identified across South Africa in the last 24-hours – representing a positivity rate of 14.3%.

Phaahla has warned that despite a noted decrease in COVID-19 related deaths, the Omicron variant is highly transmissible.

He was speaking during a virtual media briefing on government’s efforts to fight the pandemic.

“Gauteng province has officially exited the 4th wave this week and all other provinces have reached their peaks, the other 8 provinces, and are now on a decline. Of note is the fact that the decline in new infections is not a steep decline as was the incline. So this virus rises steeply but it goes down slowly. But at least it is going down and that is encouraging.”

“The Omicron variant has been spreading to various parts of the world. The pattern seems to be the same. Notwithstanding the reduced severity overall, the Omicron variant is still very deadly – especially for people of advanced age and also people with comorbidities and those who are unvaccinated.”

COVID-19 UPDATE: Health Ministry briefs media on the national vaccination rollout programme