By some definitions, but not all, SA is officially entering the fifth wave of Covid-19 infections.
In any case, scientists have two things caught by surprise: the timing of the wave and what drives it.
Health Secretary Joe Phaahla said on Friday that after a phase of “stability with low infections” there was a “steep rise”. ‘, particularly in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, which together account for more than 85% of all cases.
The positivity rate is 17% and more in a single day in this week there were more than 6,000 confirmed infections. Active cases have injured 39,000 – about 3.6 times more than two weeks ago.
However, there are only 2,000 hospitalizations and 192 people in intensive care.< /p>
In the past two weeks, the increase in new cases has been 137%, the minister said, but the number of hospitalizations remains low and the number of deaths has not increased.
What surprised scientists is that the wave arrived earlier than expected and is being powered by a subvariant of Omicron rather than a new variant.
“We expected this resurgence in mid-May or early June, but it came earlier,” Phaahla said, adding a possible factor that Easter, Ramadan and Passover coincided.
< span>“It was assumed that the new wave would be powered by a new variant, but at this time that is not the case. There are changes in Omicron itself, but these are sublines,” said Phaahla.
“There are changes, but they are not enough to be defined as a new variant of concern. However, it is important to note that we are at great risk as winter begins.”
Earlier this week, former head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, Prof. Salim Abdool Karim said that SA is entering a fifth wave according to the definition of more than five cases per 100,000 people.
However, Phaahla said: “It is also argued that one can say that we are in a fifth wave when we consistently have more than 63,000 cases per day. We will only know after another seven days whether this is a sporadic increase or a new wave. Waasila Jassat, public health specialist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and cases are declining in most regions of the world, but South Africa has seen a steady increase for about five weeks that “has been particularly steep lately”.
She said the positivity rate has increased in every province, but there has been no increase in registered deaths or excess deaths than in previous waves,” but “the elderly are the most vulnerable and account for the highest percentage of admissions”.
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