South Africa likely in new Covid wave, says health minister

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa The country’s health minister said on Friday it was likely to join a new wave of Covid-19 sooner than expected as new infections and hospital admissions rose rapidly over the past two weeks.
The increase in new cases has been dominated by the BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the omicron variant, which dominated the country’s previous virus wave.
Health Secretary Joe Phaahla said Friday at a televised news conference: “Which way you look at it, it shows that we may actually be entering the fifth wave much sooner.” .
He said officials will watch carefully over the next few days to determine if the gains are sustained, which would confirm a new wave.
The number of new infections in the country is now several thousand a day, up from a few hundred a few weeks ago.
According to Phaahla, there is currently no information indicating the emergence of a new strain, which scientists previously thought could spur the country’s fifth wave, expected during the coming winter. of the country from May to June.
“We have always been told that when a new wave arrives, it will be driven by a new variant, but at this stage we have not been informed of a certain new variant,” says Phaahla. except for changes in omicrons.
Three South African provinces – Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape – currently account for 85% of new infections, with positive rates in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal above 20%, he said.
The rate of hospitalizations due to new cases is increasing but remains relatively low, Dr. Waasila Jassat from National Institute of Infectious Diseasesspeak.
“We are starting to see a small increase in hospitalizations in the private and public sectors,” said Jassat.
“Since about April 17, we’ve seen a sharp increase in hospitalizations.”
Southern Africa experienced the highest number of infections in Africa since the start of the pandemic in 2020, accounting for more than a quarter of the continent’s 11.4 million cases.
More than 252,000 people in South Africa have died from the virus, but the number is believed to be much higher considering the number of excess deaths recorded since the pandemic began compared with the same period before the pandemic.
Just over 44% of South Africa’s adult population has been vaccinated.

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