The Department of Health in the Free State says the number of COVID-19 patient admissions in hospitals has risen. 

Schools, working places and social gatherings are seemingly super-spreaders in the province.  

The department has warned the public to be cautious during the upsurge of infections.  

Free State has recorded 93 836 infections with over 4 000 fatalities since the start of the pandemic. 

School clusters are seeing a sharp increase in the number of infections. This week nine teachers, including support staff as well as three learners at Grey College in Bloemfontein, tested positive for COVID-19.  Those infected are self-isolating, while their contacts are in quarantine. 

The Department of Education says two classes have been affected. The Grade 7 class will return to school on Monday, while the Grade 3 class is expected to return on the 24th of May.  

Reutlwahetse Secondary School in Excelsior had to be temporarily closed after it recorded 32 coronavirus cases. 

The spike in infections has been received with mixed reactions. 

I have heard about it and I‘m scared and I heard that symptoms are no longer visible. People have sore foot and sore throat and stuff. I’m really scared about it,” says one resident.  

“It actually makes me feel a bit a scared because you never know who has it.” 

However, some still believe the virus is a myth. 

With the third wave thing, I feel like it is a lie; the same as the second wave. They are always saying that numbers are increasing whereas we know that they are increasing the numbers themselves. They say people who were killed by heart attacks are killed by COVID-19, even those who went to hospital without COVID they come back having COVID,” says another resident. 

Free State Education Spokesperson, Howard Ndaba, says schools are still functional. 

Ndaba says the department is worried about Mangaung and Thabo Mofutsanyana districts. 

Free State Health HOD Dr David Motau says: If you get increased infections, you are going to get increased admissions and out of those admissions if you are not managing them well that’s where you are going to get your deaths. So, it is that trend. So, what we need to do as the department, we need to make sure that our facilities are coping with the pressure that we are going get. But what is worrying is the capacity of oxygen that may soon run dry. 

The department says they are wrapping up the first phase of the vaccination rollout, with the second rollout scheduled to start on Monday.   

Meanwhile, on Friday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura confirmed that the province was officially in the third wave of infections.

He says there should be a balance between tightening the lockdown restrictions and keeping the economy open.

“So, we are going to increase law enforcement visibility. When we have a coronavirus command council, we will say let’s tighten the restrictions. But we cannot afford to close down the economy, unless the situation is out of control. So, it is in our hands,” explains the Gauteng Premier.

In the video below, Premier Makhura says he is concerned as the third wave of COVID-19 infections hits Gauteng:

In the last reporting period, Gauteng recorded 1 186 new coronavirus infections out of the 3 141 national figures reported on Friday, putting South Africa’s cumulative number of cases at 1 608 393.

SA latest COVID-19 figures: