South African Health Minister: The Country is Officially in a Second COVID Wave. 8,100 New Cases Reported

Cases Rising

SA recorded more than 8,100 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours – from December 9th to 10th – along with 173 fatalities.

“We wish to reiterate our plea to South Africans to heed the threat of the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases identified. There is clear evidence of an exponential rise in transmission and this is cause for serious concern,” said health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.

He confirmed that 8,166 new cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed infections countrywide to 836,764.

The confirmed cases come from 45,207 tests, at an infection rate of 18%.

Mkhize also reported 173 new Covid-19 related deaths in the past 24 hours. Of these, 90 were in the Eastern Cape, 52 were in the Western Cape, 13 in Gauteng, 10 in KwaZulu-Natal and eight in Gauteng.

There have now been 22,747 confirmed deaths linked to the coronavirus pandemic in SA.

To date, 756,671 recoveries have been recorded.

The bulk of the new cases came from the Western Cape (2,666) and Eastern Cape (2,187), following by KwaZulu-Natal (1,669) and Gauteng (1,234). The North West was next-highest, with just 105 new cases in the past 24 hours.

Second Wave

Health minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Wednesday that SA has entered a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

He was giving an update on the state of Covid-19 in SA, as infections continue to climb. SA has registered 828,598 Covid-19 cases since March, and 22,574 deaths.

Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape was recently declared a hotspot by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who announced the introduction of stricter measures there to help mitigate the further spread of the virus.

Key Quotes from the Minister’s Update

Drivers of the second wave

Mkhize said a spike in infections in four provinces was the main cause of the second wave.

“It is important for us to highlight that four provinces, being the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are the key drivers of this new wave. We looked at the number of tests done, the positivity rate and numbers of people who are admitted at fatalities. These show an indication of an increase.”

Eastern Cape and Western Cape severely affected, but it has spread

Mkhize said the increases in the last week were in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape but have since spread to four other provinces.

“Up to the past week or so, we had an increase in the Eastern Cape and in the Western Cape. There were specific districts which were affected. Now we are indicating that the numbers are increasing to involve more provinces. As of today, the increases are shown in about six of the provinces.”

How the other provinces are doing

The minister said the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape had more new cases than other provinces. The Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West each account for just 1% of the new infections, while the Northern Cape accounts for less than 1%.

“The Western Cape has 30% of the positive cases today, followed by the Eastern Cape, which is at 24%, and KwaZulu-Natal, which is 23%, and Gauteng province at 17%.”

Superspreader events

Mkhize said the peak age is now between 15 and 19. This is believed to be chiefly from events such as the Rage Festival attended by teenagers in Ballito, KZN recently. The health department declared the event a Covid-19 “superspreader”.

“This is a new issue and this is worrying. It is believed to be due to a large number of parties involving young people drinking alcohol with no adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions, wearing no masks, and social distancing and hand sanitising not taking place.”

“Prepare for a festive season with a difference”

The minister said the festive season should be enjoyed responsibly and with caution to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

“Yes, the festive season is a time for us to relax and enjoy with our families; we now need to understand that we have a responsibility to enjoy with various restraints.

“If your enjoyment will lead to more people being infected and being admitted to hospital, it’s not a responsible way to enjoy ourselves.”

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].