‘SA in fifth wave’ with spike in new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations – expert

South Africa is already experiencing a fifth wave of Covid infections caused by the micromicrolineages BA.4 and BA.5, which may resemble the previous wave in size and severity, according to health experts.

National Institute of Infectious Diseases Wednesday saw the biggest jump in new cases in the country since January, at 10,017 and an increase of 164 hospital admissions, with a positive rate of 25.3%.

Although the fifth wave was probably less severe, according to vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi, SA has been the fifth wave in the last two to three weeks, especially Gauteng as it may have peaked with the recent resurgence.

“Most importantly, hospitalization and death rates have increased, but they are significantly lower than the first three waves, and possibly even lower than the micron wave,” he said.

Madhi also said the resurgence should be interpreted with caution, especially when trying to draw comparisons to the past, and while there was no need to panic, the focus should be on ensuring that at least 90% of people over 50 are vaccinated with three vaccines. doses.

“The lockdown will only be detrimental and will have limited value in fighting the resurgence. There is now extensive immunity against severe Covid from a past infection,” he said.

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Senior Scientist Dr. Ridwaan Suliman said the current infection rate confirms that SA has been within the new wave for some time.

However, he said there was no indication that BA.4 and BA.5 caused more severe disease than BA.1 and BA.2.

“The incidence is now 11.9 per 100,000 people and is up 30.4% from the previous peak, but this is normal and we should not be reading this with fear, anxiety or panic,” he said.

“The situation is different from what it was two years ago, although you have to pay for it. At this stage, two years after the start of the pandemic, SA did not have a high level of immunity; many people have been infected so they now have natural immunity combined with acquired immunity.”

The Ministry of Health claims that SA is still on the cusp of the fifth wave and that it is too early to announce it.

However, to avoid a surge in hospitalizations, people need to make sure they are vaccinated and boosted.

“We urge people to get vaccinated and follow preventive measures. Nearly 50% of the target population were vaccinated. We have administered more than 35 million doses,” Foster Moheil, a spokesman for the department, said.

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Presenting his department’s budget in Parliament on Tuesday, Health Minister Joe Fahla also said that South Africa has not yet entered the fifth wave.

“As a country, we have witnessed four waves of Covid and now we [speculating] as to whether we are already in the fifth wave or it is still going on,” Faahla said.

“There are indications that we are not yet in the fifth wave, but as the cold weather gets stronger and we spend more time indoors, the risk of a fifth wave continues to rise.”