Good news for future Covid waves in South Africa: Netcare

The outlook for the remainder of the 2022 financial year largely depends on the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic and the various potential scenarios that may emerge, says hospital group Netcare.

However, the signs are positive that South Africa has passed the worst of the Covid pandemic, the group said in its interim results report on Monday (23 May).

“The new Omicron sub-variants (BA.4 and BA.5) that have recently emerged are currently driving an increase in Covid-19 positive cases in South Africa. While the impact of these sub-variants appears to be mild thus far, reflected in relatively low hospitalisation and lower mortality, it may weigh on patient sentiment and could affect activity in the short term.

“In addition, the possibility of further waves of Covid-19 does exist. However, in the absence of a new highly transmissible and virulent variant of the virus, and against the background of increasing levels of immunity from natural infection and vaccination, there may be a reduction in the severity of such potential waves should the serial mutation of the Omicron variant continue.”

Should this scenario eventuate, allowing South Africa to move from a pandemic to a more stable endemic state in which outbreaks are not overly disruptive and are largely controlled by significant and frequent vaccination, recovery in activity over time to pre Covid-19 levels can reasonably be foreseen, Netcare said.

Long Covid and other issues  

A further factor that is beginning to emerge is the effect of Long Covid, which refers to a wide range of physical and mental health symptoms that subsequently present in patients who have previously contracted Covid-19, Netcare said.

“Medical experts have noted over 200 conditions and long term effects to date. This wide spectrum of clinical conditions may influence future demand for medical services, including primary care, dialysis, acute care and mental health.”

The group added that the macro-environment continues to be impacted by global supply chain constraints, higher inflationary pressures and rising interest rates.

“These factors are likely to worsen, prolonging supply chain bottlenecks and placing increasing pressure on prices. As a precautionary measure, Netcare has brought forward the procurement of IT equipment for CareOn, to ensure that the project is not impacted by any undue delays resulting from supply chain problems, or elevated prices.

“In addition, the instability of the national electricity grid in South Africa remains a key risk, as frequent power outages necessitate an increasing reliance on diesel-powered generators, where prices are escalating.”

The national shortage of nurses is a further risk and the attraction and retention of scarce skills remains a critical imperative for the business, Netcare said.


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Good news for future Covid waves in South Africa: Netcare