Health minister Joe Phaahla said the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases is being seen nationwide but Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape are worst hit. Stock photo.
Most provinces have possibly entered the Covid-19 fifth wave, which appears to have arrived earlier than predicted.
This is according to health minister Joe Phaahla, who was briefing media last week after a rise in daily infections took a “sharper uptick” and a very “low uptake” of vaccination.
Phaahla said the health department, as advised by scientists, expect the fifth wave will probably hit the rest of the country in the middle of May or early in June.
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“The question at the top of our minds is whether we have entered the fifth wave, which is much earlier than predicted,” he said.
The minister said the department will monitor daily infections and in coming days will provide a clearer indication on whether the country has entered the fifth wave.
“The next seven days until May 6 will give a clearer picture where we are going, whether the fifth wave started earlier without a distinct new variant but driven by sub-variants or it is an early spike driven by the Easter weekend,” he said.
Epidemiologist Prof Salim Abdool Karim advised the department that from his calculations of cases per 100,000 people, it appears the country has entered the fifth wave.
“Prof Abdool Karim, in his weekly analysis published every Tuesday, argues that from a technical definition of 75 cases/100,000 population daily, we have entered the fifth wave in most provinces,” said Phaahla.
“From another definition it is proposed that if we reach 6,237 cases per day on a seven day average we will be in the fifth wave. Either way, we went to 6,372 cases on Wednesday.”
Provinces with most cases
Phaahla said the steep rise was driven mainly by higher rates of infections in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
He said the three provinces accounted for more than 85% of new cases.
He said 50% of adults had not received at least one vaccination.
“What is uncertain is that our scientists tell us a new wave will come through a new variant nicknamed Pi, which will need to be more transmissible and escape immunity.
“At this stage what is confirmed to be dominant are sub-variants of Omicron called B.4 and B.5, which have changes to the original B.1 but not enough to be new variants of concern,” said Phaahla.