While COVID-19 infections and test positivity rates have increased, Minister of Health Joe Phaahla thinks it is still too early to proclaim a fifth wave has arrived.
Phaahla, speaking at a press conference on Friday, April 29th, said the data suggests the fifth wave may be approaching sooner than planned.
“Any way we look at it, it appears that we may be approaching the fifth wave much sooner than we think.” “We only need to wait a few more days, maybe another seven,” Phaahla added, “to be confident that this was not just an occasional spike but a consistent uptick.”
Series of religious holidays could have driven the rise in infections
At this time, no new variety of concern has been discovered as a cause of the recent increase in infections. The rash of religious holidays is one idea that officials are considering. This could be the reason for the increase in infections and the entrance of a fifth wave earlier than expected.
“There is also an analysis that because of the Easter weekend, which also coincided this time with the holy period of Ramadan for Muslims and Passover for the Jewish faith, there were a lot of religious gatherings which also could’ve been the trigger for the spike that we’ve seen over the last 14 days,”
Joe Phaahla, Minster of Health.
Phaahla explained that over the next seven days, a clearer picture will be painted with regard to the earlier start of the fifth wave without a variant of concern. He said that the time until 6 May will illustrate if there is a subvariant driving the rise in infections or if it is a result of gatherings over the Easter weekend.
A long winter may increase COVID-19 cases in SA
Due to the approaching Winter, Phaahla warned South Africans about the danger of increasing infection rates. He predicted that the winter would be lengthy and cold, with people spending more time indoors. Gatherings will likely be conducted indoors as well, putting any respiratory infection at danger, according to Business Insider.
“What is evident is that we are still highly vulnerable to Covid-19, especially as we enter a long winter.” It’s going to be a long winter, with people spending more time indoors and even our meetings, whether for functions or merely restaurants and other activities, primarily taking place indoors, increasing the risk of respiratory infections spreading quickly,” Phaahla added.