Your Covid-19 questions answered

Should I be concerned by the latest spike in Covid-19 cases?

Health minister Joe Phaahla said the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in recent days was of great concern. Stock photo.
Health minister Joe Phaahla said the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in recent days was of great concern. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/phonlamaiphoto

The resurgence of Covid-19 cases and signs of a possible fifth wave of infections is worrisome, says health minister Joe Phaahla. 

The minister presented the department’s annual report to parliament over the weekend. He said the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in recent days, which saw 4,406 new cases in 24 hours ending on Thursday, was of great concern.

“We have seen worrying signs of a rise in Covid-19 infections. We hope this will not go much higher, but we are monitoring and we will be able to report back to the committee and the public once we have seen the trend.

“We hope there will be more stability in the pandemic, that the pandemic will be better contained.”

Phaahla said he hoped resurgence in Covid-19 cases would not disrupt other health programmes.

“As we present the plans and the financial resources allocated to those plans, we know that the finances are never enough, especially in the highly burdened public health system which carries a huge burden of disease,” he said.

Earlier this year, Phaahla said the government was still aiming for a 70% vaccination target which would allow it to further ease restrictions.

At the start of the vaccine rollout, the government set a target to jab 40-million people, or 67% of the population, to reach the point where enough people are immune to the coronavirus to prevent it spreading unchecked.

“If we were to reach 70% coverage, this will enable us to open up more activities and reduce the need for a lot of the health measures,” said Phaahla.

“The biggest drawback is the young population between 18 and 34 years of age. We need at least 5-million more of this age group vaccinated so that they can boost their coverage to at least 60%, which will also push the national coverage closer to at least 60%.”

Wits University professor Shabir Madhi said reaching herd immunity is “extremely unlikely” and the focus should rather be on getting the jab to prevent severe illness and death.

“We need to stop talking about herd immunity because it’s not going to materialise with Covid-19. That is not the reason we are vaccinating. To achieve herd immunity, about 85% of the population would need to develop immunity against infection, not against severe disease, and that is extremely unlikely,” he said.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.