Home South African Fifth Covid-19 wave likely as winter spreads its icy tentacles in SA

Fifth Covid-19 wave likely as winter spreads its icy tentacles in SA

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The recent uptick in Covid-19 cases both provincially and nationally supports predictions by health experts that a fifth wave is likely to coincide with the winter season.

Young boy assists elderly woman with her mask. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

THE RECENT uptick in Covid-19 cases both provincially and nationally supports predictions by health experts that a fifth wave is likely to coincide with the winter season.

On Saturday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 4,230 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3,759,689 nationally, with the number of people who have succumbed to the virus reaching 100,298.

As of April 23, the Western Cape reported 4,560 active cases of the virus.

About 677,364 cases have been detected with 650,874 recoveries, as at Friday, April 22. The province recorded 21,930 Covid-19-related deaths since the pandemic began.

Hospital admissions, a key indicator, remain low at 165 across public and private hospitals.

The provincial health and wellness department said it expects the fifth wave in late April or early May.

Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said: “We are seeing increases in cases countrywide, specifically in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, driven by the new Omicron sublineages identified (BA.4 and BA.5).

“There is a very small number of specimens with BA.4 in the Western Cape and work is under way to understand virus phenotype and potential impact.”

Should the need arise, the department would be able to reopen quarantine and isolation facilities, said Van der Heever.

To date, 2,812,437 people received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, of which 2,548,832 are fully vaccinated.

Those eligible to receive a Covid-19 booster are encouraged to get the extra dose for enhanced protection, especially immuno-compromised individuals. This includes those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer and related illnesses, the department said.

“The benefit of a Covid-19 booster should be self-evident. The disease has not gone away and we remain concerned that we might be facing a fifth wave, and worryingly, new unknown variants,” health specialist Dr David Pienaar said.

National Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said the department has noted with concern the current spike of Covid-19 infections in some parts of the country, and urged people to take extra measures to protect themselves.

“There is no need for the public to panic at the moment, but people should continue adhering to preventative measures and vaccinating.”

Mohale said the NICD and other health experts are closely monitoring the situation in order to establish the patterns of the disease’s progression.

“Although it is too early to tell what drives the current spike of infections, all unvaccinated and partly vaccinated people are urged to protect themselves through vaccination,” Mohale said.

“The lifting of the State of Disaster does not mean Covid-19 is over. Epidemiologists predict the fifth wave around the winter season, which is associated with flu.

“The department is ready for any resurgence of cases and in communication with all relevant stakeholders,” Mohale said.

Cape Argus

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