South Africa faces the test of the Covid wave in the coming weeks

The resurgence of Covid cases in South Africa and signs of a possible fifth wave of infections will test the South African government and the country’s new pandemic restrictions, says Busi Mavuso, chief executive of Business Leadership South Africa.

Writing in his weekly open letter, Mavuso noted that South Africa is currently in a 30-day transition period from the Covid regulatory disaster state which ended on April 5 before the new National Health Act regulations became the way. to manage responses to the pandemic.

“This fifth wave will be the first test of these regulations and I hope they will prove more effective than their predecessors in balancing the need to limit virus transmission with the need for minimal disruption to the economy and our lives,” she said. .

“There is some risk here: previous waves have seen many variations of restrictions as we sought as a country to gauge our response. There were obvious missteps we learned from. That learning needs to be fully absorbed in how we use new regulations to tackle the pandemic. “

Another key differentiator is that the country’s background immunity levels have changed dramatically as more people have been vaccinated.

“Businesses can play an important role in this effort through vaccine mandates, although a clear government policy on this would help. But vaccines aside, the high rate of previous infections offers additional layers of protection. Estimates for the prevalence of antibodies in the population it ranges from 56% of those under 12 who have never been vaccinated to 93% of those over 50 who have been vaccinated.

“The relatively low impact of the omicron wave in terms of deaths and hospitalizations has been attributed to this high level of protection. So, in determining what measures we need to fight the new wave, we can assume that it will have less impact than previous waves and that, therefore, we can avoid measures that damage our fragile economic recovery. “

Mavuso added that previous waves have shown that the country can find the best balance in managing the pandemic and the economy if there is full consultation so that the consequences of the regulations can be understood and planned. “I’m looking forward to engaging with our public sector counterparts to find that balance.”

Further restrictions unlikely

While weekly cases of Covid-19 have declined in recent weeks, the risk of further waves of Covid-19 persists, the Standard Bank said in a shareholder note on Monday (April 25).

Vaccination professor at Wits University Shabir Madhi said there has been a clear increase in infections in South Africa in the past week, with the country now on the verge of revival.

However, he noted that there has been a “massive decoupling of infections and the occurrence of serious diseases,” with the country in a much better position than in previous waves due to its higher immunity levels.

He added that further tightening of lockdown restrictions would likely be unnecessary as this has repeatedly failed in the past.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said his department is monitoring the “worrying” increase in Covid-19 cases in recent days and will present its findings to the public once it has more information.

Presenting his department’s annual report to parliament on Friday (April 22), Phaahla said the government still hopes these cases won’t increase much, but stressed that the situation is being actively monitored.

He added that more time was needed to determine the exact infection trend. However, if cases continue to rise in the winter months, hopefully it won’t be disruptive enough to distract the government from its current agenda.

On Sunday (April 24) 19,325 tests were conducted with 3,222 new cases, representing a positivity rate of 16.7%. Gauteng leads the increase with 1,727 new cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 818 new cases.

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