Fifth wave looms as Covid-19 cases rises in Mzansi

Dylan Bettencourt

A rise in Covid-19 cases across South Africa has raised concerns that a possible fifth wave of infections has started.

The nation’s test positivity rate climbed to a three-month high this week, as cases broke the 4,000 daily figure.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported on Saturday 4,230 new cases of Covid-19, representing a 16.8% positivity rate.

The looming fifth wave comes as expected. Both the government and the private sector forecast the rise of infections to arrive at the end of April.

At the end of March, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that the nation should remain cautious of the virus as he expected the fifth wave to arrive in a matter of weeks.

“Although infections and deaths currently remain low, we face a possible fifth wave in the coming weeks. The only defence we have is the scientific evidence showing the power of vaccines to save lives,” Ramaphosa said.


“Our country has already administered over 33 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccines.”

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, the respected clinical infectious diseases epidemiologist, said the fifth wave will be similar to the previous four.

“There has been a three-month gap between each of the Covid-19 waves. Based on that, if that trend continues, then we are likely to see the next wave in May. There would have to be a new variant driving it,” he told Health-e news.

The fourth wave of infections in South Africa came late last year, and while there were thousands of positive cases each day, the death rate remained low. This allowed the nation to remain in lockdown level 1 over the festive period.

South Africans will be hoping for a similar pattern to occur with the fifth wave. The recent lockdown adjustments have seen the state of disaster dropped and then reinstated with the KwaZulu-Natal floods.

Covid-19 infections, as well as the death rate, will influence whether Ramaphosa will have to reinstate Covid-19 restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus.

Vaccine rates in South Africa are below expectations, with only 30.8% of the population fully vaccinated. So the fifth wave could be very severe.

Image source: @BrinkNews

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