WHO hopes 2023 is end to Covid-19 public health emergency

A man wears a mask in the CBD as a protective measure against the Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

A man wears a mask in the CBD as a protective measure against the Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 6, 2023


Cape Town - Despite an upsurge in China’s Covid-19 infections, and new restrictions placed on the country’s air travellers in the West, South Africa continues to report low rates of infections despite mass gatherings this festive season.

In the Western Cape, 5 707 918 Covid-19 vaccines have been administered, with 38 261 917 doses administered nationally. Approximately 19 304 110 people are fully vaccinated, with over 4 million booster doses administered.

This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it continued to closely monitor the increase in Covid-19 cases in mainland China, as well as the rapidly increasing proportion of the sub variant of the globally dominant Omicron variant, XBB.1.5 in the US and other countries.

WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Covid-19 will no doubt still be a major topic of discussion, but I believe and hope that with the right efforts, this will be the year the public health emergency officially ends.”

Provincial Health and Wellness spokesperson Mark van der Heever said: “On January 1, 2023, we had 461 active cases and on January 4, we had 365, meaning there was a reduction in active cases.

“So over the course of four days there were 33 new cases at an average of eight new cases daily. However, you must keep in mind that there were public holidays and testing would have been very low.”

He said hospitals continued to have isolation wards to treat infectious diseases. At public hospitals, 22 people have been hospitalised due to Covid-19.

“The absolute numbers are low across the province with no real significant high numbers. But the Metro has the highest total of active numbers of 120. This is expected as it also has the highest population total in the province,” Van der Heever said.

National Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said very few people were hospitalised due to Covid-19 nationally and Covid-19 cases were fluctuating.

“But we do report deaths related to Covid-19, which confirms that we are still living with this deadly virus.”

Mohale said no new variant of concern had been detected, with the sub Omicron subvariants still the dominant variant circulating, as well as globally.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and also gathering information to make well-informed scientific decisions with regards to the surge in cases in some parts of the world. People are urged to vaccinate and observe non-pharmaceutical interventions to protect themselves. The pandemic is mutating and unpredictable, the best way is to protect ourselves at all times.”

The South African Medical Research Council said its waste water sampling for Covid-19 was currently paused and would recommence in the next week or two.

[email protected]