Experts confirm SA likely to face third wave in winter months
DURBAN - EXPERTS believe that the country is likely to face a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the cooler months of 2021.
Professor Saloshni Naidoo, Head of the Department of Public Health Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said the epidemiology suggests a third wave will occur in June of July of this year, which is SA's winter season.
"If there are more variants, and if they are more transmissible as we have seen with the 501Y.V2 variant, then the third wave can be more severe than previous waves. While close to 1.5 million South Africans have had the infection a large percentage have not and there is the issue of re-infection to consider as well," Naidoo said.
In an interview with the Sunday Tribune, Dr Aquina Thulare, Health Department Technical Adviser, said a third resurgence in Covid-19 infections was inevitable.
"We have seen other countries in Europe, parts of Asia, and the US experience third waves, and we anticipate our own. Currently, the virus is unpredictable and there is much to be learnt but what is known is that the third wave and the issue of herd immunity are intertwined with the behaviour of the virus," she said.
Co-chairperson of the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee and director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, also confirmed that the third wave would hit between June and July.
"Drawing from experience and information gathered throughout the onset of Covid-19 in the country, we know a third wave will occur and it will hit in about three to four months which is around June and July. But between May and June we expect to discover new variants, and the greatest fear is that the new variants would mutate to bypass immunisation which would undermine all our efforts and the third wave would be devastating," Karim said.
Naidoo urged communities to continue adhering to Covid safety protocol.
"People have behaviour fatigue. By nature we like to socialise but practising infection prevention measures of physical distancing, hand washing, and masking when in public does reduce the potential for disease transmission. Avoiding large gatherings, limiting yourselves to social bubbles reduces transmission. Older people and people with comorbidities should have the influenza vaccine when its available. If you have symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 ensure that you test and if positive then isolate for the required period. If in contact with a positive Covid-19 person then quarantine for the 14 days as required by national guidelines," Naidoo said.