South Africa may be entering fifth Covid-19 wave: health minister

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South Africa may be entering a fifth Covid-19 infection wave earlier than expected, after a sustained rise in infections over the past 14 days, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said on Friday.

“What remains stable … is hospital admissions including ICUs (intensive care units), not a very dramatic change,” Phaahla told a news conference. “There was also a rise in deaths, not very dramatic from a low base.”

He said that three provinces were particularly affected, accounting for 87 percent of cases.

“Gauteng province alone accounted for 53 percent of the positive cases, KwaZulu-Natal 23 percent and the Western Cape 11 percent,” the minister said.

The minister said that the number of infections was rising.

“Indeed, over the last 14 days the rise in infections have been sustained, from just going over 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 up to reaching 6,300 in one day,” he said.

Phaahla said at this stage health authorities had not been alerted to any new variant, other than changes to the dominant one circulating, Omicron.

South Africa has recorded the most Covid infections and deaths in Africa to date, with more than 3.7 million confirmed cases and over 100,000 deaths during the pandemic.

On Thursday, the WHO’s Africa office flagged the rise in South Africa’s Covid infections as the main driver of an uptick in infections on the African continent. The warning came as South Africa added 4,146 new cases and four deaths.

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