The third wave is now officially here

With 9,147 new cases reported countrywide on Thursday, South Africa officially entered its third wave of Covid-19 infections, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Covid mathematician Ridhwaan Suliman said the total in Gauteng on Thursday of 5,595 new cases – 61% of the national total – is one of the worst days on record.

“The last two days in Gauteng are looking scary,” Suliman tweeted. “There has been a noticeable change in the trajectory.”

While Gauteng is the epicentre of the virus, cases are rising dramatically in other provinces. They are up 87% in KwaZulu-Natal; up 51% in the Western Cape; up 49% in the Eastern Cape; and up 43% in Limpopo.

The picture in the rest of the continent is also looking bad. Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, said the pandemic is trending upwards in 14 countries. Uganda has recorded a 131% week-on-week rise in Covid-19 cases in the last week. He said however that vaccine shipments to African nations have ground to a near halt.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the US would donate half a billion new Pfizer vaccines to 92 developing nations.

The news was welcomed by John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, who called it a cause for celebration and appealed to all international partners to step up.

“Please be on the right side of history because history will remember this.”