Tag: fourth wave

NICD Issues COVID Increase Warning

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Over the past week, an increase in the 7-day moving average for new COVID cases and the percentage testing positive in Gauteng has been observed by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), particularly in Tshwane amongst 10–29 year olds.

Additionally, the NICD has recently identified a cluster amongst the 20–44 age group at an institute of higher education in Tshwane. “We are monitoring these trends to see if these increases persist,” comments NICD Acting Executive Director, Prof Adrian Puren. He continued, “Localised increases in case numbers (clusters) are not unexpected, however, it is hard to say whether the increases indicate the start of a widespread resurgence.”

The emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants to a large extent drove previous waves: Beta in the second wave and Delta in the third wave. “Genomic sequencing in South Africa has, to date, not yet detected the emergence of any new variants which are making up an increasing proportion of the sequences,” Dr Puren added. Molecular sequencing has some inherent delays in processing, due to transport of samples and the time taken to process them. In spite of any possible new variants emerging in the future, the importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions remains unchanged and individuals are encouraged to wear masks, practice hand hygiene, maintain social distancing and to gather in well ventilated spaces.

At present the National Department of Health reports that 41% of adults in South Africa have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, with 35% fully vaccinated. “It is difficult to predict the magnitude and timing of a potential COVID resurgence, however, we implore the unvaccinated to get the COVID vaccine, especially the elderly and those with comorbidities,” urged Dr Michelle Groome, Head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response. She added that vaccination and prior infection confer good protection against developing severe disease, and while there might be an increase in future case numbers, the number of hospitalisations and deaths are expected to be less severe compared to prior waves.

“As the endemic endures, I would like to reassure the public that the NICD continues to acutely monitor trends in case numbers, positivity rates and hospitalisations,” Dr Puren concluded.

Source: NICD

A Smaller Fourth Wave Predicted for South Africa as Flu Cases Spike

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A fourth wave of infections is likely for South Africa but its impact probably won’t be as severe as during earlier surges, as shown by new modelling, according to BusinessTech.

Factoring in sero-prevalence surveys and other data, it appears that an estimated 60% to 70% of the population has already contracted COVID, which along with vaccinations will provide protection from severe disease, the South African COVID-19 Modelling Consortium said in an online presentation on Wednesday.

Even in its worst-case scenario, deaths and hospitalisations during a fourth wave were projected to be substantially lower than during previous surges.

Though current caseload for the country is “incredibly low”, it is still “very hard to commit to say South Africa is over the worst” of the COVID pandemic, said Harry Moultrie, a senior epidemiologist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, which coordinated the modelling.

“It’s going to be a bumpy ride,” he said. “We don’t know where this virus is going to take us. We will still be seeing hospital admissions and deaths related to Covid for years to come.”

South Africa;s seven-day rolling average of new infections has fallen below 300, much reduced from a third-wave peak which hit nearly 20 000 in July.

To date, South Africa has had 2.93 million confirmed cases of COVID, with 89 504 deaths, although excess death numbers indicate the true toll may be much higher. About 34% of the nation’s 39.8 million adults have been fully vaccinated.

While some countries in the northern hemisphere such as Germany are seeing severe fourth and even fifth waves of infection driven by the spread of the delta variant, that’s not a good indicator South Africa will follow a similar path because the strain has already spread widely in the country, explained Gesine Meyer-Rath, a member of the modelling consortium.
“We have paid in a way with high deaths and a lot of destruction” during previous waves, Meyer-Rath said. “We don’t think we will have a super-fast case increase again” unless a highly transmissible new variant emerges, she said.

While the outlook for the fourth wave is brighter, the past few weeks has seen a sharp rise of influenza cases, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported.

A high number of cases had been seen from the beginning of the month, including influenza-like illness and pneumonia hospitalised cases at surveillance sentinel sites.

The NICD added that there had been clusters of influenza cases reported in schools and workplaces.

The NICD’s Cheryl Cohen said: “The increase in influenza this summer, which is not the typical time for the influenza season in South Africa, is likely the result of the relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions to control COVID combined with other factors such as reduced immunity because flu has not circulated since 2020 and 2021.”

Sources: Eyewitness News; BusinessTech

A Fourth Wave in the Festive Season?

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Health experts are warning that even while the COVID vaccination programme is speeding up, with vaccinations passing the 7 million mark, a fourth wave of infections could still be possible before the Christmas holidays.

The government’s vaccine rollout has been long delayed, including a false start where one million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine were sold on due its inefficacy against the then-dominant Beta variant. Compounded with vaccine hesitancy, it is only now that the vaccination programme is starting to gain ground. Still, many of these in the most vulnerable group are still awaiting their vaccinations.

Back in January, experts were already warning vaccination delays would result in a deadly third wave – a warning that proved all too true.

“It’s a concern to us and we have to get the herd immunity up as fast as possible, and we also have to protect the most vulnerable people in the community. And that’s why we started with the roll out to older people, and not enough have come forward and that’s why we are now messaging the younger population, please bring the elderly amongst your family and your friends, your community, for vaccination,” said Dr Nicholas Crisp of the Department of Health.

Last month, at the Moseneke inquiry into whether elections could be held under lockdown, Wits University vaccinologist Prof Shabir Madhi and the head of the SA National Aids Council, Dr Fareed Abdullah, also expected a fourth wave to arrive later in the year – putting paid to any election plans. The two experts both predicted a fourth wave in later October.

“The peaks are almost six months apart. We don’t know when exactly the third wave will peak, probably over the next few weeks, and we’ll see that six months regularity and if that continues, then we can expect a fourth wave a bit sooner than earlier suggested,” said Prof Madhi.

Professor Francois Venter, director of Ezintsha at Wits health sciences meanwhile, said he expected a fourth outbreak of the coronavirus could hit South Africa around November. Future COVID waves in South Africa hinge on the vaccine rollout – and who is being vaccinated is important, not just how many.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape is experiencing vaccine shortages as cases spike there. The province’s premier David Winde said in a statement: “The fact that there is such enthusiasm to get vaccinated is great news, but we understand it is also very frustrating when it is not possible to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“The fact that the demand is far outstripping our current supplies means that we are experiencing pressures at some of our sites. We please ask for your patience and understanding.”

Source: Eyewitness News