Covid-19 is still here, scientists to release revised modelling projections in coming weeks
Johannesburg - As Covid-19 cases have stabilised over the past couple weeks, scientists working on modelling projections will set their eyes on whether South Africa could fall victim to a second wave of the pandemic.
A member of the Covid-19 Modelling Consortium, which advises the government on the behaviour of the disease, Dr Sheetal Silal, said the group has been surprised by the behaviour of the virus in the country as cases have decreased, along with hospitalisations and deaths.
Silal, who was speaking on Radio 702 on Monday, said the behaviour of the virus had acted differently in some aspects especially regarding the deaths and cases that had initially been projected in May.
The consortium had raised concerns in May when it issued a projection, based on an optimistic and pessimistic perspective, that close to 40,000 South Africans could die from the virus by November with cases expected to reach between 1 million and 3 million.
Silal said several factors could explain the reasons why the spread of the virus did not perform as expected. One of the reasons could be the country's young population and another could be that the country's treatment of Covid-19 cases had improved which may have resulted in lower deaths.
Silal was cautious not to draw assumptions on the possible failures of modelling projections. She said as modellers several factors had to be considered which included the novelty of the virus, drawing from an international perspective where cases had accelerated over time with the assumption that the virus would behave similarly in South Africa.
She also pointed to the issue of excess deaths which had to be analysed in context.
Currently, the country's excess deaths have been reported at just over 42 000 according to an analysis by the SA Medical Research Council.
Excess deaths, which constitute unusual death numbers as compared to previous years, have risen sharply since May in line with rising Covid-19 cases.
Silal said that is the reason why the consortium has always stressed the lack of uncertainty about the virus.
She said there were concerns around the country moving to lower levels of the lockdown and possible impact on the virus' behaviour, but this has not materialised.
Silal said the consortium will release new projected figures in the coming weeks which will take into account the current behaviour of the virus in the country.
Also ahead was work on whether the country could be at risk of experiencing a second wave of the pandemic. The trend has been observed in other countries in Europe which are currently experiencing a second wave of the pandemic.
Silal said as part of analysing the possibility of a second wave would involve looking at the section of the population that had not been infected and whether it could be at risk.
She stressed that the pandemic was not over and the importance of social distancing, wearing of masks and hygiene protocols need to be followed as society continues to interact.
The decrease in cases over the past few weeks have raised optimism that President Cyril Ramaphosa could soon announce a move to level 1 of the risk-adjusted lockdown.