The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Thursday said the recent rapid increase in the percentage of South Africans testing positive for Covid-19 was a cause for concern.
NICD acting executive director Professor Adrian Puren said the current trajectory in new coronavirus cases was worrisome and should they continue to climb South Africa would likely cross the threshold for a third wave in Covid infections in the coming weeks.
“If members of the public rapidly implement meticulous social distancing and adhere to non-pharmaceutical measures, transmission will decline and the third wave will be delayed”, Puren said in a statement.
“With the vaccination of elderly people scheduled to commence next week, delaying the third wave will provide more time to vaccinate those most at risk for severe disease and will thus save lives.”
This follows Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize’s warning this week that the country could be hit by a third wave in Covid-19 infections.
The minister also called on citizens to remain vigilant and adhere to health and safety protocols like social distancing, hand washing, sanitising and wearing face masks to ensure the country is not severely affected by the third wave.
On Wednesday, new cases nationally increased by 2,759, pushing the total to 1,602,031 while 1,548 new cases were recorded on Tuesday. The Free State province is already in the grips of a third wave while the Northern Cape has experienced a significant resurgence in recent weeks.
Five other provinces – Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West and Western Cape – are also showing sustained increases.
Western Cape experiencing resurgence
On Thursday, the Western Cape provincial government confirmed it was experiencing a resurgence in active Covid-19 cases.
However, provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete said the province was not yet in the grip of a third wave.
“We have now officially gone into resurgence. It is not quite the start of a third wave but it’s the early most sustained sign that we have had increased cases. This is the time for us to collectively flatten that third wave as it is very real,” Cloete said, speaking at a Covid-19 briefing by the provincial government.
According to the NICD, data from the last reporting week (3-9 May 2021) showed an overall 46% new case increase in comparison to the previous reporting week (26 April to 2 May 2021), with the Northern Cape (68%), Gauteng (63%) and Limpopo (47%) provinces topping the list.
“Although there has not been an increase in hospital admissions, Covid-19 related deaths increased by 18% in comparison to the preceding week with the following provinces accounting for 81% of all reported fatalities: Eastern Cape and Western Cape (21% respectively), Gauteng (20%) and KwaZulu-Natal (19%),” the NICD said.
Nationally, South Africa has not met the threshold for a new wave in Covid-19 infections.
According to a Ministerial Advisory Committee Technical Working Group, a resurgence occurs when the seven-day moving average incidence exceeds 30% of the previous wave’s peak.
Across the country, the seven-day moving average peaked at 18,800 cases on 11 January 2021, equating to a new wave threshold seven-day moving average incidence of 5,600 cases a day. As of 12 May 2021 the national seven-day moving average incidence is 1,950 cases.