Jump in daily Covid-19 cases raises fourth wave concerns in South Africa

South Africa has reported a continued increase in Covid-19 cases over the last week, raising concerns of a possible fourth wave of infections.

On Wednesday (24 November), 1,275 new cases were reported – the highest daily increase since the start of October. A total of 35,390 tests were conducted in the previous  24 hours, with the new cases representing a 3.6% positivity rate. A further 22 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 89,657 to date.

The rise in cases comes days after the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said that the incidence of Covid-19 was increasing in wastewater samples of some areas of Gauteng, the most populous province. South African Medical Research Council data show that excess deaths, the number of deaths over a historical average, have been rising in recent weeks.

There has been a rise in the number of people testing positive in Gauteng, particularly in the Tshwane municipal area that includes the capital Pretoria, the NICD said.

CSIR senior researcher Ridhwaan Suliman said that the latest data pointed to a potential resurgence in Gauteng. He said the increase in test positivity and hospital admissions are raising red flags.

“Absolute numbers are still low enough to get on top of this, but the response must be swift,” he said.

Scientists working with the government have predicted that a fourth wave of coronavirus infections could begin in December.

Forecasts show the fourth wave is likely to be less severe than previous resurgences because about a third of South African adults are fully vaccinated and between 60% and 70% of the population may have already been infected.

The number of confirmed daily infections peaked at almost 20,000 in July, during the third and most severe wave the country has experienced.

Professor Bruce Mellado, a member of Gauteng’s Covid-19 Advisory Committee, says the province is now busy preparing models for a potential fourth wave of Covid-19 infections.

Mellado told radio station 702 that the province reported a 300% rise in cases over the last week, much higher than expected given the history of the pandemic. He added that the province was now awaiting further data, independent from what had already been received, to help calibrate models and give an idea of what to expect in the coming weeks and months.


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Jump in daily Covid-19 cases raises fourth wave concerns in South Africa