Rising Covid-19 Cases Signaling Fifth Wave In SA

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A recent uptick in the number of positive Covid-19 cases confirmed in South Africa has placed health authorities on alert as a potential fifth wave of infections looks to be on the horizon.

 


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In the last reported 24 hour cycle, 1954 new Covid-19 cases were reported with a 19.3% positivity rate. This took the number of active cases in South Africa to just above 30 000. The previous 24-hour cycle saw more than 3000 new laboratory-confirmed cases. 

Professor of Vaccinology, Shabir Madhi, says while there has been an interval of four to five months since the last wave which could indicate a resurgence of infections, we need to be cautious about how data such as the positivity rate is interpreted. 

He explains that the overall testing rate in South Africa has decreased with only people likely to have Covid-19 getting tested. It is therefore difficult to make direct comparisons between the current positivity rate and the positivity rates recorded in the previous waves. 

Madhi says that a resurgence will be considered a fifth wave of infection when the positivity rate remains above 10% for two consecutive weeks. 

When that positivity rate is above is greater than 10% for more in two weeks, I think that's a reasonable measure that we've used for other respiratory viruses to indicate that we've gone into pandemic mode again but again the focus in South Africa is not about a positivity rate, our focus singularly should be about hospitalisation and right now hospitalisation remains extremely modest for Covid-19.

Madhi has encouraged people to get vaccinated against the virus, especially people who are older than 50-years-old and individuals who have underlying health conditions. 

“If we're trying to protect against infection and immunity is short-living and even less even more short-living when there's a new variant that's antibody evasive but if we're trying to protect against severe disease and death then that immunity persists probably for five to six years based on experience with MERS Coronavirus and what we know to be important when it comes to protection against severe disease which is the t-cell immunity,” explained Madhi.

 

 

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