A second coronavirus wave in South Africa – what the experts say

South Africa’s coronavirus data shows a continued downward trend, and there is currently no sign of a ‘second wave’ of infections as restrictions are eased in the country, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says.

The NICD’s Professor Cheryl Cohen told ENCA that while there is a theoretical possibility of an upsurge in case, there was no sign of an increase in cases at this time. She added that it was difficult to predict when a second wave or increase may occur.

“One important piece of information is that we do need to understand a bit more about why the numbers are coming down,” Cohen said.

“How much of that reduction that we are seeing is around people adhering well to the measures and restrictions, and how much of it is around the per cent of the population that is immune?

“It is hoped that over the next few weeks we will get more information about the immunity in the population. That will really help us to understand the different contributing factors.”

Cohen said that the country’s coronavirus cases are continuing to decrease, but that there is still a risk, and that people should stick to restrictions.

Dr Jabulani Ncayiyana, University of Cape Town (UCT) epidemiologist, told TimesLive that a second wave is inevitable, with human behaviour being one of the key contributors.

“It depends on how many people have immunity. If fewer people were infected during the first wave, then it means more people could get infected during the second wave.

“If people stop using prevention measures like social distancing and wearing masks and hand hygiene more could get infected,” said Ncayiyana.

He also said that it was difficult to predict precisely when South Africa could see the second wave.

“It all depends on how people behave. Travelling is less important, what is crucial is how people will behave; becoming complacent in maintaining prevention measures — social distancing, and wearing masks and hand hygiene.”

We don’t want to go back into a lockdown 

This echoes comments made by Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize who said that South Africa is now over its coronavirus surge and that the country is now seeing a ‘plateau’.

He indicated that the Western Cape has already passed its surge over two months ago and that KZN is now also seeing a decrease in cases.

“The real risk we are worried about is resurgence if people neglect precautionary measures,” he said. “The message we are sending is for everyone to take personal responsibility.”

Mkhize said that different countries have had to reimpose restrictions.

” We will have to do the same if people start behaving complacently. We hope we don’t have to go in that direction. It is a decision that is not taken lightly. We do think it’s possible for people to exercise social behavioural changes”

In South Africa, there have been 2,728 new cases, taking the total reported to 609,773 as of Sunday (23 August).

Deaths have reached 13,059 (an increase of 72), while recoveries have climbed to 506,470, leaving the country with a balance of 90,244 active cases.

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A second coronavirus wave in South Africa – what the experts say