South Africa’s fourth wave passes as cases decline, experts urge caution

The country’s COVID-19 cases have been dramatically dropping since reaching record highs just weeks ago.

Following a surge that has seen new confirmed COVID-19 cases reach 27,348 last month, the country has seen its daily cases plummet to as low as 3,232 for the 24 hours to the 3rd January. The dramatic drop that has characterised much of the second half of December has culminated in the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, gazetting amendments to adjust the Level 1 from the 31st of December, including the lifting of the curfew. “According to experts, Omicron has reached the peak, …with clinical manifestations that have not caused any alarm in the hospital situation,” Mondli Gungubele, Minister in the Presidency, said on Friday. “Based on the experts, the conditions do allow that we lift the curfew,” added Gungubele during a news conference.

However, government officials and leading experts have urged caution as the Omicron variant still remains a notable threat. “I’m hopeful our fourth wave is over. One is wise to stay humble with this virus and we don’t know what is around the corner,” said Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, the Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre and Health Foundation. To date, just over 15.6-million people have been fully inoculated, with vaccinations still being encouraged as the primary means of protection. “So far, it looks like Omicron has done its rounds, although it is certainly not gone and so we all do well to stay on our guard. Get vaccinated/boosted when we can,” added Bekker. The country is currently rolling out booster shots of both Pfizer’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines.