For the better part of 2022, Covid-19 cases in South Africa have remained consistently low after the fourth wave driven by the Omicron variant. However, a “noticeable upturn” in cases has been recorded in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Dr Ridhwaan Suliman said the positivity rate in the country was rising sharply.
“In Gauteng, a noticeable upturn in Covid-19 case incidence: currently averaging 777 new cases or 4.9 per 100k per day, up 43% week-on-week,” he said.
While cases have increased, Suliman said hospitalisations and Covid-19-related deaths remained low.
On Wednesday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 2 846 new Covid-19, which represents a 13.4% positivity rate.
In April, the country’s positivity rate ranged between 5 to 9%. Suliman said the increase was the highest recorded since the middle of January when the country was exiting the fourth wave.
Gauteng accounted for most new cases with 46%, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 23% on Wednesday.
Leading South African scientists have predicted the country could see a possible fifth wave of infections at the end of April or the beginning of May.
“An increase in cases is expected, not just because of an increase in gatherings but probably more based on the timing. An increase has been expected for end April/beginning May based on timing of previous surges,” said Suliman
While the fifth wave has been predicted for the upcoming winter months, South Africa has high levels of population immunity due to previous infection and vaccination.
“I don't think we should approach the next and future waves with the same fear or anxiety as before. We expect and hope to continue seeing low levels of severe outcomes of hospitalisations and deaths,” he said.
Nationally, #COVID19 test % positivity in South Africa 🇿🇦rising sharply now: 13.4% today (highest since mid-Jan), 7-day avg at 9.2% 📈— Ridhwaan Suliman (@rid1tweets) April 20, 2022
The rise in TPP is now due to both a decline in testing and an increase in case incidence, the latter up 30% compared to this time last week 🚩 pic.twitter.com/X5eNRpqNrN