Cautious optimism as South Africa’s COVID-19 numbers and hospitalisations decline

NICD warns South Africans not to be complacent as COVID-19 numbers and hospitalisations continue declining.

With the country’s COVID-19 new cases and hospitalisations declining steadily, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has warned South Africans not to become complacent and reverse the progress made. The warning comes as the national 7-day moving average of daily case numbers, positivity rate and testing rate continued their downward trend across all provinces. “There are also sustained decreases in COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths in all provinces. These trends are encouraging but we should not let our guard down yet,” said Dr Michelle Groome, Head of the Division of Public Health, Surveillance and Response at the NICD. In the statement released on Wednesday, the NICD also confirmed that Gauteng, Limpopo and the North West provinces had officially exited their third waves based on the current wave definitions.

However, denting the progress made has been the declining pace of vaccinations across the country. On the 20th of September, South Africa administered 159,542 jabs - the lowest number of vaccines given on a weekday since August the 13th when 147,307 were dosed. The worrying figure means the country’s vaccination numbers fell to nearly half of government’s 300,000 daily doses target. In addition, only a third of the country’s adult population had received at least one dose so far, a concern noted by the NICD as it encourages that vaccinations of those at risk for severe COVID-19 disease and those with underlying comorbidities be prioritised in the coming months. In her statement, Groome also encouraged South Africans to keep wearing their masks, adhering to social distancing and observing strict hygiene.