SA is clearly entering into 4th wave, says top NICD expert - urges those hesitant to get vaccinated

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  • Dr Harry Moultrie has urged hesitant, unvaccinated South Africans to reconsider, and protect themselves.
  • He told Health24 that there have been sustained increases in Covid-19 infections in seven provinces.
  • South Africa is "clearly entering into the fourth wave", he said.

Dr Harry Moultrie on Wednesday urged hesitant, unvaccinated South Africans to reconsider, and get vaccinated soonest, as he told Health24 that South Africa is "clearly entering into the fourth wave".

Moultrie is a senior medical epidemiologist for geospatial modelling at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

READ | Amid concerns, fears over new Covid-19 virus variant - a reminder why vaccination is vital

He was responding to questions from Health24 after Professor Shabir Madhi, the dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and professor of vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand, earlier said Gauteng had already entered its fourth wave of Covid-19 infections.

Madhi said that this was based on the province's positivity rate of 19%. The positivity rate refers to the percentage of all Covid-19 tests that come back positive. 

He said other provinces are likely to follow in the next three to four weeks.

Moultrie confirmed the increase in positive testing in Gauteng, and also pointed out "sustained increases in Covid-19 incidence" in other provinces.

"South Africa is clearly entering into the fourth wave, with seven provinces (Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and the Western Cape) having sustained increases in Covid-19 incidence.

"The proportion testing positive in Gauteng has risen dramatically in the last two weeks.

"The presence or absence of a wave, however, does not inform resurgence planning or preparation as these are guided by other metrics.

"As such, wave status is less important than a clear and unambiguous message to the public that we are experiencing rapid and sustained increases in cases in most provinces," Moultrie said.

READ | Covid-19: Omicron, fourth wave – experts plead with health workers to get their J&J booster shots

With the increase in cases, Moultrie strongly urged unvaccinated South Africans to consider getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

"Those who have hesitated in getting vaccinated up until now should urgently reconsider their decision and get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves against severe Covid-19.

"Provincial and national departments of health are urged to continue and ramp-up preparations for a likely increase in Covid-19 hospital admissions," Moultrie said.

Since the detection of the new Covid-19 virus variant, Omicron, and the impending fourth wave, scientists have all pointed to vaccination as the best form of protection.

READ | Covid vaccines expected to protect against hospitalisation caused by Omicron, says top expert

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

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