We have not hit third wave yet - health department on Mkhize's SOS to provinces

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. (Photo: Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images)
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. (Photo: Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images)
  • The national health department says the country has not yet hit the Covid-19 third wave.
  • This after Health Minister Zweli Mkhize warned provinces that "for all intents and purposes, we are in third wave".
  • The department said the country was at risk, and a 14-day new case comparison showed a 24% increase in Covid-19 cases.

The national health department says despite an increase in Covid-19 cases, the country is not in the third wave of the disease yet.

The department's statement followed a News24 story on Health Minister Zweli Mkhize's warning to provinces earlier on Wednesday.

Mkhize said: "For all intents and purposes, we are in the third wave even if it is not fitting a technical definition. The numbers will no longer go down other than if we start intensive containment measures."

In a statement on Wednesday night, the department said: "We want to assure South Africans that we have not yet hit the third wave; however, we are at risk, and we hence need to be on heightened vigilance as a country."  

On Wednesday, new cases climbed by 2 759, pushing the total to 1 602 031, while 1 548 new ones were recorded on Tuesday.

The department said while increasing numbers were worrying, "our resurgence dashboard, which was developed by the South African Covid-19 Modelling Consortium, which is updated thrice a week, still shows that we have not, as a country, reached a resurgence threshold, though some districts in the country are fast approaching the threshold". 

It added it was working with provincial departments to update its resurgence plans to focus on, among other things, case management, contact tracing, bed capacity and oxygen availability. 

The department said it had noted a 46% increase in new cases from 8 593 in the week of 26 April to 2 May to 12 531 from 3 to 9 May.

The 14-day comparisons showed an overall increase of 24% in new cases. 

All provinces showed a positive percentage increase, with the Northern Cape showing a 68% increase in the last seven days, followed by Gauteng at 63%, Limpopo at 47%, the North West at 42% and the Western Cape at 39%, the department said.

A 14-day comparison of Covid-19 deaths showed a 28.93% decrease. 
As a country, we are on high alert and we know that the main drivers of the new wave will either be the resurgence of new variants and/or the fatigue from adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions [NPI].

"To counter these, we are working closely with our genomic sequencing team to ensure that we are able to pick up the new variants earlier. For NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions], we are continuously communicating with communities to adhere to NPIs," it added. 

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