South Africa may be entering Covid fifth wave

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 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 World Health Organisation’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.

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Meanwhile, a senior scientist at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Friday there was no sign so far that new sub-lineages of the Omicron coronavirus variant were causing significantly more severe disease.

The NICD’s Waasila Jassat said there was no pressure on hospital beds or oxygen in South Africa currently.  — Wendell Roelf and Alexander Winning, (c) 2022 NewsCentral Media