KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has officially entered the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Premier Sihle Zikalala confirmed on Sunday.
KZN fourth wave
Giving an update on the Covid-19 development in KZN, Zikalala indicated that Covid-19 cases were rising ” at an alarming rate”, placing the blame for the surge in infections on the new Omicron variant.
“In the past three weeks, our province has observed a significant climb in the rate of infections on a daily basis. The number of daily cases that have been registered in the past seven days has been rising at an alarming rate.
“In fact, it is twice the number received two weeks ago. Clearly a new wave of infections is fast rising and the Omicron variant is the driver behind this new wave of infections,” the premier said during a media briefing.
Zikala said the positivity rate in KZN had also increased – from 0.7% to 12.7% – with the province recording more than 100 cases per day since 26 November.
“The average number of cases received daily rose from 47 to 362 cases per day. All of these developments indicate that we have now entered the fourth wave,” he said.
The premier revealed that the rate of hospitalisations also increased, including patients who require treatment in intensive care units (ICUs) and ventilation.
“We can confirm that the vast majority of those patients who require treatment in ICU and ventilation are those who have not been vaccinated,” Zikalala continued to say.
KZN fourth wave readiness
He further indicated that the provincial health department has developed a festive plan to deal with the fourth wave.
“All events have been targeted, including planned events and traditional events. All planned events are required to have a Covid-19 plan, including the sea cruises.
“The taxi industry and shopping malls are also targeted with interventions that will include health education, vaccination and compliance monitoring insofar as non-pharmaceutical Interventions are concerned,” he added.
READ MORE: Omicron: What we know and what we don’t
The premier urged event organisers to delay the staging of their events, or put very strict controls in place to prevent gatherings from turning into super-spreaders.
“We encourage them to seek guidance from the relevant authorities when planning these events,” he said.
KZN currently has a total of 3,355 isolation beds dedicated for Covid-19 patients, while more than 1,500 beds have been reserved for persons under investigation.
There are 117 ICU beds in public hospitals.
“The Department will re-purpose more beds if the need arises,” Zikalala further said.
Covid-19 stats and vaccination
On Saturday, 4 December, KZN registered 1,002 new Covid-19 cases, which brought the total number to 521,599 since the first case was identified in March last year.
The total number of deaths in the province currently stands at 14,798. The province has also seen a total of 381 patients be admitted to both private and public hospitals.
Meanwhile, just over 4 million vaccines have been administered to more than two million people, which accounts for 36% of residents in the province.
Zikalala also expressed concerns over the slower uptake of vaccinations in KZN.
“The districts with the lowest vaccination rate include iLembe, Amajuba, Zululand, uThukela, and King Cetshwayo.
“We ask those individuals who remain unvaccinated and their families to treat vaccination as an urgent matter. Let us work together to avoid unnecessary loss of life as we navigate the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections.”