Cases have been dropping rapidly during Level 3 of lockdown, prompting Professor Salim Abdool Karim to confirm that the second wave has peaked.
Karim, one of the government’s leading advisors on the virus, said during an interview on Tuesday that coronavirus infections are ‘firmly on the downward slope’. New cases have been diminishing continuously over the past two weeks, with the peak estimated to have happened on Friday 8 January.
“When we look at the data we have right now on the cases, we have reached our peak, close to about 20 000 cases on 8 January. Since then, for the last 14 days or so, we have seen a continual and systematic decline in cases. Yesterday, we had 6 000 cases. This is occurring in most provinces. We are now, from all the indicators we see, firmly on the downward slope.”
“The vaccines, that are being purchased for COVID-19, are being purchased centrally by the government. The vaccines, as far as I understand, are being provided free to anyone who is being vaccinated. The actual funding is coming from the Treasury and the medical aids are also contributing to the cost, but to the person receiving it, there is no cost at all. “
Professor Salim Abdool Karim
Of course, when we experience a drop in COVID-19 cases, the next logical line of questioning focuses on lockdown restrictions. An adjusted form of Level 3 regulations remain in place, but could this new data end up easing some of the tougher rules? Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma indicated that this discussion could happen ‘after the resurgence has peaked’.
“The government cannot give a definitive date when the regulations will be capped because there’s no telling how the virus will progress in the coming weeks and months. [Level 3 restrictions] will only be reviewed once we have passed the COVID-19 peak – and when the numbers have declined sufficiently and not to take us to another wave.”
However, a drop in new cases alone isn’t sufficient enough to force the NCCC’s hand. Both hospitalisation and death rates have to decrease significantly, as well. Although these latter factors are better than they were at the start of January, it will take a few more weeks for them to show the same sort of dramatic alternations seen in the ‘new infections’ column.