South Africa Covid Cases Climb, Though Officials Say It’s Not a Third Wave

South Africa is at risk of a third wave of coronavirus infections with new cases rising rapidly, although the country has yet to reach the “resurgence threshold,” the nation’s health department said.

The number of cases detected in the seven days through May 9 rose 46% to 12,531, and the Northern Cape and Gauteng provinces were particularly hard hit, the department said in a statement late Wednesday. While deaths rose 18% in the week, the number of hospitalizations didn’t increase.

“We have not yet hit the third wave, however we are at risk,” the department said. “We are on high alert.”

More than 1.6 million Covid-19 cases have been detected in the country so far and almost 55,000 of those diagnosed with the disease have died.

The actual toll is likely to be far higher than the official tally, with a report by the South African Medical Research Council showing the country had 158,499 excess deaths between May 3, 2020 and May 8 this year. While more data is needed to determine the underlying causes of those deaths, it’s likely that “a significant portion” could be attributed to the coronavirus, the council said in its weekly report.

The government has faced criticism for being slow off the mark to distribute vaccines, with just 430,730 health workers having been given a Johnson & Johnson shot so far as part of a study. The inoculation of people over the age of 60 is due to begin on May 17, and the health department says it has secured sufficient shots to cover more than two-thirds of the population of 60 million by year-end.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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