“It is still too soon to say whether the long Easter weekend has had an effect on the infection rate; we will see the effects sometime this week.”
THIS week will reveal if the Easter long weekend had an effect on the Covid-19 numbers in South Africa.
Senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Dr Ridhwaan Suliman said it would take around 10 to 14 days to determine whether Easter gatherings increased case numbers.
“We are kind of in a lull stage where we are hoping things will continue to decrease but we are on alert and monitoring for any possible resurgence, especially since we have had a long weekend with people moving more and with an increase in the number of gatherings,” he said.
Daily Covid-19 cases have been relatively low, says Suliman, with an average of 800 new cases a day, the lowest it has been since the middle of May last year,
“It is still too soon to say whether the long Easter weekend has had an effect on the infection rate; we see the effects sometime this week,” he said.
The long weekend saw a dip in the number of Covid-19 testing, which makes it challenging to identify where and when outbreaks occur.
“I don’t think we do enough widespread testing to understand where outbreaks occur. For example when numbers go up, we don’t really know if it is specifically within schools or workplaces or churches,” he said.
Epidemiologist and senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University Dr Jo Barnes said increased Covid-19 testing would be beneficial for gathering real-time information.
“As soon as testing starts showing up, increased numbers in any specific area (an early warning of a possible new wave of infections in that area), then active steps can be taken to encourage the population to strictly adhere to the common-sense precautions, health services can be prepared for extra cases and stricter lockdown measures can be considered. But without accurate numbers or numbers that come in very late, then that defeats the purpose of coping with the pandemic,” she said.
Suliman said the country has made commendable efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
“All of the numbers across all of the provinces have declined within the past few weeks, and the test positivity rate has been low,” he said.