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'Worrying' rise of Covid-19 cases across SA, but third wave not here yet: health department

There was a worrying increase in the number of new Covid-19 infections across SA, the health department said on Wednesday, adding that the third wave hadn't started.
There was a worrying increase in the number of new Covid-19 infections across SA, the health department said on Wednesday, adding that the third wave hadn't started.
Image: Piyamas Dulmunsumphun/123RF

The rising number of Covid-19 cases across SA was “worrying”, the health department said on Wednesday night — but the country wasn't yet in the pandemic's third wave.

In a statement, the department said that it had noticed in increase in the weekly number of new cases over the past seven and 14 days compared to the previous corresponding periods, with all provinces showing an increase — particularly the North West and Gauteng. There was also an increase in the number of Covid-19 related deaths over the past seven days.

But these increases, the department said, were not yet pointing towards the “resurgence threshold” having been met.

“There was an increase in new cases from 8,593 cases in the preceding seven days (April 26-May 2) to 12,531 cases in the past seven days (May 3-9), constituting a 46% increase. The 14-day comparisons also showed that the cases increased from 17,017 in the preceding 14 days to 21,124 cases in the past 14 days, an overall 24% increase. All provinces showed a positive percentage increase, with Northern Cape 68% up in the past seven  days followed by Gauteng at 63%, Limpopo at 47%, North West at 42% and Western Cape at 39%.

“The new Covid-19 related deaths increased by 18.22% in the past seven days (May 3-9) to 318 from 269 in the preceding seven days (April 26-May 2). However, the 14-day comparison showed the deaths decreased by 28.93% to 587 in the past 14 days compared to 826 in the preceding 14 days. The cumulative case fatality ratio is 3.43% (54,735 of 1,596,595)," the department said.

There was good news in that hospital admissions “have not shown an increase”.

“As much as these figures are worrying, our resurgence dashboard, which was developed by the South African Covid-19 Modelling Consortium, which is updated thrice a week, still shows that we have not as a country reached a resurgence threshold, though some districts in the country are fast approaching the threshold.

“In the meantime, the national department of health is working with provinces to update their resurgence plans to ensure that these are activated. These plans mainly focus on case management, contract tracing, oxygen availability, bed capacity, respiratory support equipment and human resources.

“As the country we are on high alert and we know that the main drivers of the new wave will either be the resurgence of new variants and/or the fatigue from adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions. To counter these we are working closely with our genomic sequencing team to ensure that we are able to pick up the new variants earlier.

“So we want to assure South Africans that we have not yet hit the third wave, however we are at risk and we hence need to be on heightened vigilance,” the department said.


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