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Minister Mkhize Confirms Second Wave Of COVID-19

Health minister Zweli Mkhize announced that South Africa has entered the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

See below for the full statement.

This evening we wish to announce that as South Africa we are now experiencing a second wave. A criteria was formulated by our scientists and modeling teams. As it stands as a country we now meet that criteria. It is also important to highlight that four provinces, that being, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng Province are the key drivers of this new wave.

To break it down: The majority of new cases today are from WC (30%) followed by EC (24%) then KZN which accounted for 23%; and GP accounted for 17%. The Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West each accounted for 1% of new cases respectively while Northern Cape accounted for less than 1%

It is important as well to highlight that today we have breached 6000 in terms of new cases and the total new cases today identified is 6 709 thus giving us a total of  828 598  cumulative cases today.

There are some seriously concerning issues I need to bring to the attention of the public:

  1. The positivity rate today is 18%- well above the ideal 10% that the MAC on COVID-19 recommends
  2. You will notice from the seven day moving average graph that the increases in rapid increase in KZN and Gauteng are exponential. This means that we should expect faster rising numbers with a higher peak than in the first wave
  3. 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 15-19 age group. This is believed to be due to large number of parties involving young people drinking alcohol with no adherence to non-pharmaceutical interven- tions, ie wearing of masks, social distancing and hand and surface sanitizing. This inevitably leads to super spreader events which spill over into the rest of the country as this age group is highly mobile and the majority of the carriers are asymptomatic. If this trajectory continues our health care 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.

We would like to indicate that, having observed the trends in the past couple of weeks, we had already sent a letter to all MEC’s 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 eval- uation and reporting to national department.