Concern as virulent Delta strain spreads across the province
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Cape Town - The Covid-19 Delta variant is spreading rapidly across the province, having been detected in Cape Town, the Garden Route and Overberg regions.
As infections increased by 39% over the past week to 18 518 active cases, health officials were preparing a response beyond the scale of the second wave, if need be.
At the latest provincial briefing on Thursday, head of provincial Health Department Dr Keith Cloete said: “Case numbers are increasing rapidly now, and we are currently seeing an average of 1 430 new diagnoses each day. The proportion positive has also increased markedly to an average of 25.0%.”
He added that hospital admissions were also increasing, with an average of 135 new admissions and about 25 deaths each day.
Director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research (CIDER), Professor Mary-Ann Davies confirmed that the Delta variant was present in the metro, Garden Route and Overberg, with sequencing data for other districts still in progress.
“Some evidence from the UK suggests that the symptom profile could be different – most prominent current symptoms are headache, sore throat, runny nose and sneezing. Fever, anosmia (loss of smell), ageusia (loss of taste functions) less prominent. This may impact transmission as cases are not recognised and people don’t isolate,” Davies said.
She encouraged people to self-isolate even if these symptoms presented themselves as a cold.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Saphra), meanwhile, is expected to make a decision on the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine application within the coming days, while the Sputnik V vaccine application is being reviewed.
Sahpra’s usual time frame of registering Covid-19 vaccines within 20 months has also been reduced to 90 working days, with stringent requirements remaining the same to ensure good quality and not endanger lives, chief executive Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said.
Sahpra had come under fire with the EFF marching against it, demanding the approval of more vaccines – particularly Sputnik V from Russia and Sinovac from China.
“We are quite at an advanced stage with the evaluation of the CoronaVac vaccine, manufactured by Sinovac. We have had numerous engagements with the applicant. A decision should be communicated to the applicant within the next coming days.
“For any application we need to make sure that elements of data that are required are made available and that we are satisfied with what is being provided to us,” Semete-Makokotlela said.