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Western Cape premier Alan Winde. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER
Western Cape premier Alan Winde. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER

The Western Cape is seeing a rapid rise in Covid-19 infections and its entry into the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is imminent, the premier of the province, Alan Winde, said on  Thursday.

“The Western Cape is fast approaching its fourth wave, with new infections increasing at a rapid rate,” the premier said in a statement. He noted that the fourth wave would officially begin when the seven day-moving average of new daily infections reached 30% of the previous peak. “At the current trajectory, this is imminent,” Winde said.

The Omicron variant is driving the rapid increase in cases with more than 80% of PCR specimens in the last week having the proxy marker of the variant.

New cases diagnosed daily were averaging 665 with the province entering the fourth wave when that figure reaches about 1,100 cases per day, on a seven-day rolling average. The proportion of tests coming back positive has increased to an average of 20% while the reproduction number — the number of new infections caused by one person infected — has reached a high of 2.5, which is higher than was the case in the second and third waves.

“In terms of projections for the week ahead, the SA Covid-19 Modelling Consortium expects this steep increase in Covid-19 cases to continue next week, with numbers rising to an average of 3,156 a day in the Western Cape. This would be as high as the third-wave peak. Their projections for this week were largely correct,” Winde said.

Hospital admissions were showing signs of an early increase with 19 admissions per day on a seven-day moving average while deaths remained low, at less than two deaths per day. Winde said it was too early to say whether the lag in the number of hospitalisations to new infections would continue because the new infections were mostly among younger residents, who generally had a milder disease. Fewer younger people than older ones have been vaccinated.

“Another reason could be because the virus is predominantly spreading among younger people at this early stage of the resurgence,” Winde noted.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za

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