South Africa Virus Resurgence May be Cut by Previous Infection Rate

South Africa will likely experience a weaker “third wave” of coronavirus infections because studies in January and February show 30% to 40% of the population has already contracted the disease, the South African Covid-19 Modelling Consortium said.

Depending on the strength of the government response to a rise in cases, the number of fatalities from a third wave could range between 7,800 and 70,200, said the consortium, which is linked to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

That would compare with 40,000 deaths in the initial wave of infections and 88,500 in the second surge, the consortium said in a statement on Monday. The consortium uses its own estimate of deaths in and out of hospital, which is significantly higher than the official toll of 54,417.

South Africa has confirmed 1.58 million coronavirus infections so far, the most in Africa. The rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases stands at about 1,200, down from a peak of almost 19,000 in January.

The nation’s medical authorities have intensified their surveillance of travelers who could be carrying a virus variant that’s been wreaking havoc in India, and the government is consulting on whether to introduce further restrictions to prevent its spread.

“We wish to reassure citizens that there are no direct flights from India and that all our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimize the importation of Covid-19,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement. “We are currently on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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