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Tag: Covid-19 3rd Wave

The Covid-19 Third Wave Officially Over With Level 1 Expected Soon

The country has officially exited its third wave of coronavirus infections, said the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in a statement on Sunday (26 September).

The institute said that the national seven-day moving average of daily case numbers, positivity rate, and testing rates continue to decrease, with sustained decreases seen in all 9 provinces.

“Nationally, we have exited the third wave according to the current definition.”

On Sunday, only 967 new Covid-19 cases were reported, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,896,943. This represents a 5% positivity rate.

The senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Ridhwaan Suliman, said that new infections in South Africa are now at 4 per 100,000 people, which is 11% of what was seen during the peak of the third wave a few weeks ago.

New cases over the last week have been, on average, around 2,000 per day – a 40% decline in cases from the week before. Hospitalisations have dropped by 32%, and deaths decreased by 35%, week-on-week.

“Nationally, all the measures and metrics are on a sustained decline, which is quite promising,” he said. “The leading indicators have declined sufficiently below the threshold to indicate that, as a country, we have now formally exited the third wave.”

Lockdown Level 1 

The government is expected to announce South Africa’s updated lockdown regulations in the coming weeks, after moving to an adjusted level 2 lockdown on the 13th of September 2021.

The Professional services firm PwC said that it expects the government to move to level 1 lockdown from the start of October.

“The severity of the elongated mid-year wave, and the accompanying strictness of associated lockdowns, is a key driver behind the nature of the economic recovery, alongside the impact of electricity load-shedding,” the group said.

“All our scenarios take into account a likely fourth wave of infections – with varying severity, depending on the scenario – during the summer holidays.”

Joe Phaahla, the new Minister of Health, said last week that the government is considering the further easing of lockdown restrictions. Some of the eased restrictions could include:

  • An 00h00 evening curfew;
  • Alcohol allowed to be sold for off-site consumption on a Saturday;
  • More leisure activities will be allowed to reopen.

Phaahla and other health experts have however warned that a fourth wave could be on the horizon – particularly with the coming elections in November, and higher mobility and larger gatherings over the end-of-year holiday period.

Wits University vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi told the Sunday Times that the campaigning period ahead of 1 November’s local elections could cause numerous superspreader events.

Prof Madhi said campaigning will be “the riskiest period with regard to possible superspreader events, particularly if electioneering is allowed to take place in poorly ventilated indoor places.”

This is likely to be the case irrespective of the number of people who are allowed into these places. Increased community immunity and rollout of vaccines could lessen the blow of these superspreader events to a degree.

Gauteng Covid 4th Wave

The Gauteng provincial government has warned there’s a high risk of a resurgence of another wave of COVID-19 infections as the third wave is showing no discernable signs of slowing down in other provinces.

The provincial leadership has said it is concerned after experts cautioned that the third wave could overlap with a predicted fourth wave.

Meanwhile, Gauteng this week surpassed the milestone of three million vaccines administered with a new record of over 75,000 inoculations on Friday.

Gauteng is seeing a consistent decrease in the number of new infections, hospital admissions, and active cases, however, the national infection rate has not seen decreased satisfactorily.

The Health Department’s Kwara Kekana said there’s still a long way to go.

” The milestone comes as the Gauteng provincial governments’ vaccination rollout program continues to expand through innovative partnerships government, civil society, care-based organisations retail and private sector. Additional vaccination sites are being opened and more sites operating during weekends for the convenience of those who are at work during the weekdays”.

COVID – 7,773 New Cases with 370 Deaths

There’s been an increase in South Africa’s daily COVID-19 casualties in the past 24-hour cycle. Three hundred and seventy more people have succumbed to Covid related complications and 7,773 tests have come back positive.

The latest fatalities, recorded over the past 24-hour cycle, increase the country’s known death toll to 70,388 and the caseload to just under 2.4 million.

The Health Department also said that as of Tuesday, more than 6.8 million vaccines had been administered since the rollout began earlier this year.



Covid Cases Drops While Expert Warn Against Imminent Spike

A significant drop in the number of reported positive COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours has been recorded. The latest cycle of 24 hours reported only 5,683 cases compared to the 12,056 cases of the previous cycle. The daily death toll however remains alarmingly high with another 243 Covid-19 related deaths reported, bringing the total death toll to 70,018.

The past few weeks have seen the infection rate soar, with more than 12,000 new infections reported on Sunday alone, and over 20,000 on several days in the past 4 weeks. Cases appear to be decreasing rapidly and it seems that South Africa has passed the peak of the third wave, as was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his address on Sunday, 25 July 2021.

President Ramaphosa however warned that certain provinces have shown a sharp increase in cases which suggests that these provinces, which include the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, are still approaching the peak of the 3rd wave.

Another concern is the effect that the recent violent protests and looting had on testing in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Some experts suggested that cases may once again soar now that calm has been restored and people feel safe enough to be tested in these provinces.

The persistent taxi violence in the Western Cape may also have influenced testing in the province as people avoid traveling along major taxi routes.

The majority of the new cases are still in Gauteng, representing 27%, followed by the Western Cape with 21% and KwaZulu-Natal accounting for only 10%.

Meanwhile, the national vaccination program continues to gain momentum as more and more vaccination sites are opened across South Africa. The next age group is set to open soon and vaccination sites are busier every day.

Recent reports on the efficacy of Ivermectin may also result in more people opting for vaccination rather than self-treatment with the now controversial drug.

35 To 49 Age group sets Covid-19 vaccination registration record

Some good and encouraging news on the COVID-19 side.  One million people between the ages of 35 and 49 have already registered to receive their jabs.  The registration on government’s Electronic Vaccination Data System opened for this cohort on Wednesday night, a few hours ahead of schedule.

The response from the 35 to 49 population group has been massive, setting a new record of registrations for COVID-19 vaccines in a 24-hour period.

This has come at a relief for the government, with the acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi excitedly tweeting this development on Thursday night.

Government has been battling to get those who are 60 years and older to register and get vaccinated in quickest time since May.

The original target was five million elderly people jabbed by the end of June but that proved too ambitious.

Those who are 35 years and older and registered will get vaccinated from 1 August, but some sites are accepting walk-ins.

More than 16 000 additional people have tested positive for Covid-19, taking South Africa’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 2 253 240.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said there were 16 435 new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours.

A further 377 Covid-19-related deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to 65 972.

The majority of new cases today are from Gauteng (44%), followed by Western Cape (18%). Limpopo and North West each accounted for 9%; Mpumalanga accounted for 7%; Eastern Cape accounted for 5%; Free State and KwaZulu-Natal each accounted for 3%; and Northern Cape accounted for 2% of today’s new cases.

The NICD said that although the number of positive cases appeared to be decreasing, testing was critical for understanding the spread of Covid-19 infection.

It is crucial to remember that the testing data is representative of those who came forward for testing, not necessarily a reflection of current community transmission in South Africa.

Testing data is used to identify cases and the follow-up of contacts to limit transmission. This data is also used to predict, plan and deploy resources for risk mitigation.

“Understanding that services have been adversely affected and services may be temporarily closed we encourage all our communities to seek medical help if they have Covid-19 symptoms such as fever, lethargy, a dry cough, or trouble breathing,” the NICD said.

Individuals who are unable to access testing facilities and believe they have been infected or have had direct contact with someone who has been confirmed positive should call the Covid-19 hotline at 0800 029 999, stay home, quarantine for 10 days and minimise contact with others.

We Need Common-Sense Restrictions Now

Alan Winde. the premier of the Western Cape has welcomed the easing of some restrictions around restaurants and other businesses but says that some more ‘common-sense’ interventions should be introduced.

Responding to the announcement, by Cyril Ramaphosa, of the latest lockdown extension, Winde said that the government cannot allow the healthcare system to be overwhelmed any more than it already is and for residents to suffer the indignity of not having a bed, enough oxygen, or a healthcare worker to care for them when they are sick.

Similarly, it cannot allow job losses to continue at the current rate– ruining the lives of tens of thousands of people and ultimately costing lives too, Winde said. He pointed specifically to the hospitality sector which still faces restrictions of 50 people (or 50% of capacity in smaller venues), limitations on the sale of alcohol, and an evening curfew.

“I do believe that there are further changes possible in this space if we embrace innovation and ‘out of the box’ thinking; we should work with the industry to find other ways in which operations could be scaled up in a safe, well-distanced and well-ventilated environment. This innovation is also needed with the responsible sale of alcohol, which is an important revenue stream for hospitality businesses.”

One such measure would be allowing wine sales on wine farms and at wine cellars, and online wine sales with a delivery option, he continued. This could help keep businesses afloat in a safe but profitable fashion over the next 14 days.

The premier also raised his concerns around prolonged school closures, and especially on those in the foundation phase.

“As a next step, we will be preparing further submissions to the national government to effect common-sense changes that we believe will further get the balance right in saving lives and livelihoods. We must be bold and think out of the box, as we work with our residents during this challenging time.”

“I remind our residents that their behaviour remains an important way to slow the spread of the virus, and to save lives. The Western Cape Government has prepared well-in advance for the third wave and continues to have enough nurses, beds and oxygen to care for those who fall sick. But we need your help to keep our curve as flat as possible, and to not stretch the system beyond its capacity.”

Beer Association: Show us the Data Then

The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) said it will submit an urgent Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to the National Covid Command Council (NCCC) to obtain the data and the evidence on which it based its decision to extend the alcohol ban for an additional two weeks.

The latest alcohol ban, which has been in place since the 28th of June, has already served a devastating blow to the already battling alcohol industry, putting an estimated 4,603 jobs at risk as well as a potential loss of R5.1 billion in taxes and excise duties, said BASA in a statement following the president’s address to the nation.

“In all our discussions with government, it has been acknowledged that the main driver of infections is large gatherings and the failure to observe mask wearing and social distancing protocols. We have also not been provided with the data showing the link between alcohol and increased hospital admissions, despite requesting this from government on numerous occasions,” it said.

BASA said it has, for that reason, decided to submit a PAIA application to understand the rationale for the extension of the current ban, “when it is clear that thousands more jobs will be shed and billions more will be lost to the national fiscus”.

The association pointed to alleged media reports stating that Cabinet decided two weeks ago that the current adjusted level 4 restrictions would be in place for 21 days, but to manage concerns from the business community, Ramaphosa decided to announce that these would be in place for two weeks only, and would then be reviewed.

BASA questioned its engagements with the National Joint and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) via the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on the current lockdown regulations and restrictions.

“If NatJoints already knew that the ban would be extended then its discussions with the alcohol industry this week were conducted in bad faith and serious questions need to be raised regarding the usefulness of these engagements going forward,” it said.

“The over 400,000 livelihoods that depend on the alcohol industry will simply not survive if the current alcohol ban continues any longer. We simply must ensure that we save both lives and livelihoods during the third wave,” BASA said.

Addressing the nation, President Ramaphosa said for the last two weeks, the country had consistently recorded an average of nearly 20,000 daily new cases, and as of Sunday, the country had over 200,000 active Covid cases.

SA guided by advice of experts

The president reiterated that the country’s response had been guided by the latest available evidence and advice of several experts in their respective fields.

“And this is what we know; we know that reducing the instances where people are in close proximity to others helps to contain infections.

“We know that the Coronavirus spreads at funerals, in office meetings, at parties and family occasions, and restaurants, and that is why we have adjusted alert level 4. We have had to prohibit religious, social and political gatherings. We also know that as more people move the virus moves with them, and spreads,” he said.

“We know that curfews reduce movement and limits the late-night social gatherings that increase the potential for transmission. We know that restrictions on alcohol sales reduce the number of admissions at hospitals and emergency rooms with alcohol-related trauma, such as motor vehicle accidents and interpersonal violence.”

Ramaphosa stated that reducing alcohol harm frees up much-needed capacity in health facilities to deal with Covid-19 cases, adding that alcohol abuse was associated with gatherings and non-adherence to public health regulations.

“At the same time, we know and recognize the vital contribution of the alcohol industry to our economy,” the president said.

“The Delta variant is more transmissible. We need to be far more diligent in following the basic precautions with which we are all familiar with, as we implement measures to limit the number of infections. We are acting to protect as many people as possible through vaccination.”

All Additional Lockdown Restrictions

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has extended South Africa’s level 4 lockdown for another 14 days, with restrictions remaining in place until the 25th of July.

In his address to the nation on Sunday (11 July), Ramaphosa said that the last two weeks of restrictions were necessary to curb the third wave of infections in South Africa which has been caused by the fast-spreading Delta variant of Covid-19.

At present, the country has over 200,000 active Covid-19 cases. In the last two weeks alone, over 4,200 South Africans have also lost their lives to the Covid-19 virus.

“Our health system countrywide remains under pressure. By next week, daily hospital admissions across the country are likely to reach the levels observed during the peak of the first two waves. Covid-19 related deaths in hospitals are also increasing, and have surpassed those observed at the peak of the first wave,” the president said.

While Gauteng is still the epicenter of coronavirus infections, Ramaposa said that cases are surging in other provinces with the healthcare sector increasingly under severe strain. Infections are rapidly increasing in the Western Cape province, Limpopo, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga, he said.

As a result, the Cabinet, after consultation with the provinces and invested parties, has decided to maintain the country at adjusted alert level 4 for an additional two weeks.

The Following Restrictions Will Remain in Place:

  • The evening curfew remains in place from 21h00 – 04h00, and only those with permission to do so may leave their homes during this time;
  • All social, religious, and political gatherings remain prohibited;
  • Schools will remain closed until 26 July;
  • The sale of alcohol remains prohibited.

The Following Restrictions Have Been Eased

  • Restaurants and eateries will be able to operate as normal while observing strict protocols – Such establishments may not accommodate more than 50 people at a time or, for smaller venues, more than 50% of their normal capacity;
  • Certain other venues such as gyms and fitness centers may also reopen;
  • Agricultural activities such as livestock auctions will be permitted.

The president also said that Cabinet has decided that all business licenses and permits that expired between March 2020 and June 2021 will remain valid until 31 December 2022. South Africa reported 16,302 new cases on Sunday, considerably lower than Friday and Saturday, taking the total number of active reported cases to 208,709.

Up to 53,653 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours which represents a 30.4% positivity rate.  A further 151 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, taking total fatalities to 64,289 to date.

Financial relief for Covid

The Unemployment Insurance Fund, or UIF, has decided to extend the Covid-19 TERS scheme to businesses that have been impacted by the adjusted level 4 lockdown. The full details of the businesses and sectors that could qualify and benefit from this will be published in a gazette shortly, Ramaphosa said.



Lockdown Future Will Be Decided on Sunday

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is set to meet on Sunday (11 July 2021), to assess developments in the Covid-19 pandemic in the country and the national response to this challenge.

“The council’s deliberations come towards the end of a two-week period during which the country has implemented alert level 4 of the coronavirus national state of disaster,” the presidency said in a statement on Friday. The council meeting will be followed by meetings of the President’s Coordinating Council and Cabinet.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa moved South Africa to an adjusted alert level 4 lockdown on the 27th of June, introducing strict restrictions on gatherings, the sale of alcohol, and a new evening curfew.

Ramaphosa said that these restrictions would be reviewed in two weeks’ time to establish their effectiveness, with an update due on the 11th of July.  South Africans are waiting with bated breath to hear what the future will bring.  The current level 4 lockdown dealt a heavy blow to the restaurant and alcohol industries.  Several business owners have taken to social media to vent their frustrations and fears.

South Africa reported 22,910 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday (8 July), which brings the total number of reported cases to 2,135,246.

Deaths have reached an alarming 63,499, while recoveries have climbed to 1,862,900, leaving the country with a balance of 208,847 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 4,017,442.

While Gauteng continues to be the epicenter of the third wave of Covid-19 infections, Kubayi-Ngubane said that it appears that the country is now reaching its peak in cases, although some experts disagree with this assessment.

However, she said that there was now concern that the third wave would start to increase in other provinces, including the Western Cape, Limpopo, and KwaZulu-Natal.

Gauteng records over 7 000 new Covid-19 cases

A total of 11 093 new Covid-19 cases were identified in South Africa on Tuesday.

The majority of new cases are from Gauteng (67%), followed by the Western Cape (8%). Gauteng recorded 7 471 new cases (compared to 6 292 yesterday), the Western Cape 847, North West 720 and KwaZulu-Natal 551.

A further 297 Covid-19-related deaths have been reported, compared to 93 yesterday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 59 092, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said in a statement.

This brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 1 843 572 and represents a 23.7 % positivity rate.

A total of 12 633 235 tests have been conducted in both public and private sectors. An increase of 575 hospital admissions has been reported in the past 24 hours.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday the government is considering imposing tighter lockdown restrictions, particularly in Gauteng, where the number of Covid-19 infections continues to rise.

“Clearly there seem to be indications we have to increase the measures, particularly in Gauteng, we have imposed or put in place,” said Ramaphosa.

Answering questions in Cape Town after a port visit, Ramaphosa said: “We are in the third wave. The issue of moving onto another level is a matter that is going to be discussed by the National Coronavirus Command Council — the NCCC will meet and make recommendations.”

While doctors struggle to find beds for the desperately ill, Dr. Mary Kawonga, chairperson of the Gauteng premier’s advisory committee on Covid-19, says human behaviour is fuelling the intensity of the third wave of infections in the province.

“There is a high level of transmission in the community. What is concerning to us is that people are moving around a lot. They are moving more than they did during the second wave. There is a lot of contact happening between people,” said Kawonga.

Meanwhile, it is “all systems go” for the rollout of teacher vaccinations from Wednesday.

Education Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the vaccinations will not be administered on school premises.

“The vaccinations are not taking place in schools but at vaccination sites. All the vaccines have arrived in all the provinces and have been distributed to all the centres. We are starting officially tomorrow,” he said on Tuesday.

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