Experts say it’s too early to call Easter Covid-19 spike
Cape Town - The province has shown a 5% increase in Covid-19 cases with 381 more infections reported over the Easter weekend. However, health experts say it is too early to talk of a third wave as countrywide figures have not been tallied.
CSIR senior researcher Dr Ridhwaan Suliman said in a TV interview: “With the recent easing of restrictions and the current holiday period, we just have to wait and see if it will have any effect on the infection rates. There is a lag period.
“All provinces have flat-lined or shown slight spikes within the last couple of weeks. They have all stabilised, which is good news. There is certainly ongoing community transmission so we need to be really vigilant.”
As to what to expect from the Easter holiday infection numbers, Dr Suliman said: “It is difficult to predict.”
According to the provincial Covid-19 dashboard, as of 1pm yesterday there were 280 607 active cases in the Western Cape.
On Thursday, April 1, the number stood at 280 226, meaning over the past four days 381 more cases have been confirmed over the Easter holiday.
Head of health Dr Keith Cloete said new Covid-19 cases had shown a slight increase of 5% across the province, but had mostly plateaued out.
“We are now seeing a similar number of cases, admissions and deaths that we were seeing in October 2020, the lowest period between the first and second waves
“No major clusters have been identified, but the teams on the ground are watching the situation carefully. We will continue our surveillance to track infections, and to intervene early to manage ’bush fires’ where increases are detected,” Cloete said.
With regard to the vaccination roll-out, Premier Alan Winde said: “In order to roll out as many vaccines as we can, we all have an important role to play in delaying a third wave as much as possible. How we act and behave during this time between waves is crucial.”
As for vaccine authorisation, South African Health Products Regulatory Authority chief executive Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said: “We registered the Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen on March 31. This registration signals a significant step in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.”
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) spokesperson Dumile Mlambo said: “As of March 31, the Sisonke study had successfully vaccinated more than 250 000 health workers nationally ahead of the expected third wave.
“This will support the national health system so that it is in a robust position to respond to the surge expected in the coming months,” said Mlambo.
At the same time political analysts have commented on the connection between the vaccine roll-out and perceived instability in the ANC overshadowing the focus on the pandemic.
Political analyst Ralph Mathegka said: “The ANC is in charge of government, so the internal wrangles appearing within the party certainly will not give confidence to what the party is doing in government. I mean, if you look at the roll-out of vaccines, clearly it is the work of a broken party.”
Economist Dawie Roodt said: “Even if there were no infighting we would still have to wait forever and a day for them to get everything done because of their massive incompetence.”
Another political analyst Ntsikelelo Breakfast said: “Some of the battles in the ANC have a negative spillover, but there are other complexities at play on a global scale that are also presenting challenges.”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has accused the world of practising “vaccine apartheid”.
Preaching at the Easter vigil at St George’s Cathedral, Makgoba said: “Vaccine nationalism has already taken hold. The voluntary vaccine supply mechanisms, such as Covax, and the bi-lateral agreements used to procure vaccines across the world are failing.
“They are failing especially for the global south, where we can with justification say that the poor of the world are suffering from vaccine apartheid.”