South Africa has officially hit the second wave, with 6 709 COVID-19 new cases reported in the last 24 hours pushing the total number of cases to 828 598.
In a special briefing on Wednesday night, Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said the country now meets the resurgence criteria formulated by scientists and modelling teams.
Meanwhile, he announced that teenagers are driving the second wave of infections this time around.
“In the last two days the age distribution of new cases showed a different pattern from the norm, the peak age in this period is in the 15 to 19 age group,” he said.
“This is believed to be due to a large number of parties involving young people drinking alcohol with no adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions,” he added.
The Minister said the super-spreader events “spillover” into the rest of the country, as this age group is highly mobile, while the majority of them are asymptomatic.
“If this trajectory continues, our healthcare system will be overwhelmed by the numbers. Hence, part of the recommendations that are being tabled by provinces themselves is that large gatherings and parties must be urgently curtailed.”
New cases peak exponentially
Four provinces are currently leading the pack, with the Western Cape recording the highest number of new cases at 30%, while the infections have peaked by 24% in the Eastern Cape, 23% in KwaZulu-Natal and 17% in Gauteng.
The Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the North West accounted for 1% of new cases each, while the Northern Cape contributed to only less than 1%.
The Minister has also raised concerns about the positivity rate that currently stands at 18%.
“This is well above the ideal 10% that the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 recommends,” he said.
“You will notice from the seven days moving average graph that the rapid increase in KZN and Gauteng are exponential. This means that we should expect faster-rising numbers at a higher peak than in the first wave.”
The Minister said his department has already sent letters to all MECs urging them to prepare their respective provinces for a second wave.
“The key issues that we have raised are that the provinces need to ensure that testing turnaround times are as quick as possible to facilitate patient flow, assess bed capacity including recalling field hospital beds, attend to staffing and equipment needs urgently and to tighten up monitoring and evaluation and reporting to national department,” he added.
According to the stats, 135 more people succumbed to COVID-19 related deaths, which pushes the death toll to 22 574.
Of the latest fatalities, 56 are reported in the Eastern Cape, 48 in the Western Cape, 16 in Gauteng, 15 in Free State, 15 in Free State and seven in KwaZulu-Natal.
“We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health workers that treated the deceased patients,” Mkhize said.
In addition, the recoveries now stand at 754 658.
The information is based on the 5 690 263 tests completed, of which 38 200 were performed since the last report.
Globally, the World Health Organisation is reporting 67 780 361 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1 551 214 deaths.
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