Fourth wave concerns mount as Gauteng sees surge in COVID-19 cases

Latest statistics from NICD show the province accounted for more than 80 percent of new cases.

In recent weeks, the number of confirmed new cases reported across the country’s economic hub has continued to soar, raising concerns about the province’s readiness for a fourth wave. According to the NICD, from the total of 21,302 tests conducted in the last 24hrs, 2,273 new COVID-19 cases were reported. This represented a 10.7% positivity rate. During the period, an additional 25 COVID-19 related deaths were reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to date to nearly 90,000. Of the new confirmed cases, a staggering 1,909 new cases were reported in Gauteng, accounting for more than 80 percent of the country’s total. The Omicron variant has been blamed for fuelling the surge, with early indications suggesting the variant has more mutations and is likely more transmissible than prior ones.

With Gauteng being the most populous province, fears are mounting that a surge in the province could spark a countrywide surge as people prepare to travel across provinces for the festive break. Gauteng is also reportedly seeing more young people being hospitalised as cases surge. "We see that the contribution, the fraction of people over 60 that get hospitalised is significantly lower and now most of the people that are hospitalised are younger than 40," said Professor Bruce Mellado from the Gauteng Advisory Committee on COVID-19. While more than 25 million vaccine doses have been administered to date, the government is still pushing for more people to get their inoculations. However, the emergence of the Omicron variant has raised questions about the effectiveness of vaccines currently being administered.