SA’s third Covid-19 wave is well on the way to surpassing the peak of the second wave after the arrival of a new variant of the infection, said incumbent Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi on Saturday.
Prof Koleka Mlisana, the head of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, said there was an urgent need to step up lockdowns to restrict passenger traffic and called for a total ban on gatherings.
Kubayi said that The command council would meet again on Sunday to discuss changes to the lockdown regulations. She asked residents of Gauteng, where the third wave is rampant, not to hold any gatherings this weekend.
The highly contagious Delta variant that has caused infections to rage through India has been widely proven in tests said Prof. Tulio D’Oliveira, member of the ministerial advisory committee.
But he said the Pfizer vaccine administered in South Africa was up to 96% effective against the Delta variant.
D “Oliveira told a briefing convened after an emergency meeting of the national coronavirus commando that the Delta variant is now the dominant strain circulating in South Africa.
The latest reproduction number of 1.3 – which means that every infected person infects another. ” 1.3 – showed that the SA epidemic is now entering a phase of exponential growth, he said.
D’Oliveira said data on the spread of the Delta variant was being collected from widespread sources in KwaZulu-Natal were. Although data from Gauteng was expected, it was believed that the rising cases in the province were due to the highly communicable variant.
The variant has reached 85 countries, D’Oliveira said and is already spreading rapidly in Africa . “It’s starting to dominate the global pandemic very quickly.”
“It’s really, really highly transferable, more than any other variant, including the beta variant of SA,” he said.
“When transmission increases very, very quickly, we overload our hospitals and we have additional deaths, not just from Covid but from other diseases.”
D’Oliveira said the Delta Variant meant people who had already recovered from Covid-19 could easily be re-infected. However, much more data was required to confirm this.
However, the Covid-19 vaccines developed were shown to be effective against the variant.
Mlisana said the arrival of the Delta Variant had fundamentally changed the predictions of the modelers for the third wave.
“If you look at how quickly this variant actually leads to more cases, for the provinces except Gauteng we are probably speaking in a few days.” she said.
“We can already see that the hospitals in Gauteng are seriously struggling.
” That goes back to what we said: We have to make sure we there are tough restrictions, stricter restrictions.
“We have to be very determined and go so far as to say, ‘How do we restrict passenger traffic?’ and it needs to be done very urgently.
“We are probably saying there should be no meetings at all.”
The advisory committee was working on a document that would be ready by Sunday on this how the country should react to the Delta variant and how the vaccination rollout can continue despite stricter restrictions.