South Africa’s COVID-19 cases are ticking upward ahead of an expected fourth wave.
New confirmed daily infections have risen exponentially, with 1,275 new cases reported on November 24, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the world was indeed entering a fourth wave.
WHO Assistant Director-General (access to medicines and pharmaceuticals) Ms Mariângela Simão on Tuesday said, “We are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Europe. In the last 24 hours, we had more than 440,000 new confirmed cases. And that’s because there is underreporting on several continents. The world is entering a fourth wave, but the regions have had a different behavior in relation to the pandemic.”
She said the virus continued to evolve into more transmissible variants, vaccination had reduced deaths. She also said while immunisation reduced hospitalisation rates, it did not interrupt transmission.
The WHO official also bemoaned inequitable vaccine access.
“In low-income countries, there are less than five percent of people on at least one dose. One of the factors was the fact that the producers have made bilateral agreements with high-income countries and are not favoring vaccines for low-income countries.”
In South Africa, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases’ interim executive director, Professor Adrian Puren, said authorities were monitoring trends to see if the spike in infections would persist.
And the spokesperson for the Department of Health, Foster Mohale, told Health24 that: “Nobody knows when we will officially be in the fourth wave. Gauteng is already showing signs of increased cases so this may be the start.”
Prof Bruce Mellado, head of the provincial government’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee, added: “We are abstaining from declaring the fourth wave because we are still collecting a lot of information and data that is critical to analysing where we really are as a province. Once we have conclusive evidence that these stats are the signs of a fourth wave, we will certainly announce that.
“It is evident that the likelihood of these numbers maybe being a reflection of a fourth wave coming is high. I don’t want to say there is no fourth wave, to the contrary, this may be the first signs of a fourth wave.”
He said they encourage those who have not been vaccinated to get jabbed before Gauteng hits a peak.
But some experts say the fourth wave may not be as severe as previous ones.
“My feeling is… that the fourth wave is not going to be as bad as the third wave … but not as good as the best possible experience, had we attained a high coverage for vaccination,” Prof Johnny Myers (University of Cape Town) said earlier this month. – Agencies