Act now to prevent third wave, NICD warns as new Covid-19 infections rise

Concerns about sustained increases of coronavirus cases across 7 provinces

Data from the last reporting week, May 3-9, showed an overall 46% new case increase in Covid-19 cases in comparison to the previous reporting week. File photo.
Data from the last reporting week, May 3-9, showed an overall 46% new case increase in Covid-19 cases in comparison to the previous reporting week. File photo.
Image: Emile Bosch

A rapid increase in the percentage of South Africans testing positive for Covid-19 is a cause for concern, says the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Data from the last reporting week, May 3-9, showed an overall 46% new case increase in comparison to the previous reporting week, with the Northern Cape (68%), Gauteng (63%) and Limpopo (47%) topping the list.

Though there has not been an increase in hospital admissions, Covid-19-related deaths increased by 18% compared to the previous week, said the NICD.

These provinces accounted for 81% of all reported fatalities: the Eastern Cape and Western Cape (21% each), Gauteng (20%) and KwaZulu-Natal (19%).

South Africans are being asked to practise extra vigilance to push back the coronavirus.

SA has not met the threshold for a new wave, said the NICD. 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.

Nationally, the seven-day moving average peaked at 18,800 cases on January 11, equating to a new wave threshold seven-day moving average incidence of 5,600 cases per day. As of May 12 the national seven-day moving average incidence is 1,950 cases.

At a provincial level, the Free State is experiencing a third wave. While the Northern Cape never met the technical criterion for exiting the second wave, the province has experienced a significant resurgence in recent weeks.

Five other provinces (Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, the North West and the Western Cape) are showing sustained increases.

NICD acting executive director Prof Adrian Puren said while SA has not yet crossed the national threshold for a new wave, the trajectory is worrisome and should it continue its course, the country will likely cross the threshold 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,” said Puren.

“And 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.”

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