Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

Gauteng is on the cusp of the fourth wave of Covid infections, Makhura warns

The premier said they were worried that the majority of infections were coming from young people, especially those who have not been vaccinated.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has warned that the province is on the cusp of the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections.

Makhura said the sharp increase in new daily Covid-19 cases recorded in Gauteng was due to the new Omicron variant. The variant initially started making waves in the Tshwane district and has now been detected in all five districts of the province.

“Our province is at the cusp of the fourth wave in a sense that with the new variant, we are the principal focus of this variant… as we see the numbers every day, we are very concerned about the reports coming from our clinical teams,” Makhura said.

He was speaking at a media briefing in Midrand, Johannesburg, held by the provincial coronavirus command council (PCCC).

Gauteng has been hard hit by the discovery of the Omicron variant, which has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern due to fears that it might be highly transmissible, compared to the Delta variant that was behind the third wave of the pandemic in South Africa.

ALSO READ: Omicron is now the dominant variant in Gauteng as it battles spike in new Covid cases

Of the 8,561 new Covid-19 cases recorded across the country on Wednesday, the Gauteng accounted for 6,168 cases, which was higher than the average daily number of cases (6,000+) recorded in the province during the peak of the first and second waves.

But the rate of hospitalisations and deaths in Gauteng continues to remain low, which has been attributed to the effects of Covid vaccines.

Makhura said they were worried that the majority of infections were coming from young people, especially those who have not been vaccinated.

He said while they would continue to monitor the impact of the Omicron variant on hospitalisations and deaths – as well as the severity of illness on patients – the province would move with speed to ramp up its vaccination programme to target young people.

“It is clear that the people who are not vaccinated would be people of great concern.

“So, it is absolutely important that we continue to send out the message that vaccination is important because this [variant], even in the very early stages, those who are vaccinated are only showing mild symptoms,” he said.

Vaccinations on the rise

More than four million people in Gauteng have been jabbed against coronavirus while over three million individuals are fully vaccinated.

Makhura said this week the province had been inoculating more than 50,000 people per day. But he said they were concerned about the eight million adults who were yet to get vaccinated.

“Monday we got 51,000 daily vaccinations, Tuesday we got 54,000, Wednesday we got 51,000 daily vaccinations. If you know where we were, we had fallen just below 30,000 vaccination a day.”

The premier said with schools closing for the festive season holidays, they would use them as vaccination sites.

“Yes we are targeting young people but we are also going into communities to get the message of vaccination to different parts of the province,” he said.

Makhura called on Gauteng residents to avoid large gatherings as they could lead to superspreading events.

He said people should also continue to practice safety measures such as wearing a mask, maintaining a safe physical distance, washing hands regularly with soap and water, and ensuring good ventilation.

“We must send the message loud and clear that the coronavirus is out there and the new variant is out there. It’s not just in Tshwane or Johannesburg, it is out there and all over our province.”

NOW READ: Omicron drives ‘worrying’ surge in SA’s Covid cases

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