Coming weeks vital to determine start of fifth Covid-19 wave in Gauteng

The province has been experiencing week-on-week coronavirus infections increases. Last week, Gauteng recorded 4 065 cases.

 University of the Witwatersrand Professor Bruce Mellado. Photo: Gauteng Media

A possible sustained increase in coronavirus infections in Gauteng this week and in the following weeks will be important signals to tell whether the Gauteng province will be experiencing the fifth wave.

This according to Professor Bruce Mellado, member of the Gauteng government Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee.

Mellado said although over the province experienced 4 065 infections from April 7-14, it was still too early to tell whether this was a sign of a start of a fifth wave. The week before that the province recorded 3 950 cases.

“This past week we have seen an increase, a significant one. I think it is still early to conclude that we are going towards a fifth wave.

“We have seen an increase before but we need to be very alert,” Mellado said.

Over the past weeks, the Tshwane region has experienced slight week-on-week Covid-19 infections. Last week, the region recorded 1 100 infections.

Mellado said the trend in infections in the next two weeks would be important to determine whether the province would be going towards the fifth wave.

“For a wave to take place there needs to be a sustained growth in infections. So we need to pay a lot of attention to what happens this week and the week to follow. These two weeks will tell us whether we will be going towards a wave or not,” he said.

“Right now, we will be paying attention to where the cases are coming and the state of hospitalisations. We need to be alert now.”

Previously speaking to Rekord, Mellado said while the fifth wave was inevitable with current variants and rate of infections the council did not expect it to be as high as previous waves.

“We have developed early detection algorithms that allow us the use of artificial intelligence to establish the arrival of a fifth wave,” he said.

Mellado said the council could not predict when the fifth wave would hit; however, it was observed that the country’s peaks were about 25 weeks apart.

“That is why we believe that the next peak could hit around June or July. I don’t want to say it is a prediction, but conjecture because of past history,” he said.

The fourth wave peaked on December 9, 2021.

Mellado said unlike the first wave which following its peak recorded low infections, in the post-fourth wave this was not the case.

He said the rise in infections could be attributed to the change in the development of the virus.

According to the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA), the Omicron variant has been dominant since November 2021 and its subvariant called BA.2 accounted for 94% cases in March.

Following the slight increase in Tshwane last week, metro spokesperson Selby Bokaba said the municipality embarked on a vaccination drive in the north of Pretoria.

“As of April 2, region one had a 15% week-on-week increase of active cases which had moved from 196 to 225,” he said.

Coming weeks vital to determine start of fifth Covid wave in Gauteng
Screenshot of the Gauteng government Covid-19 presentation

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