A new coronavirus variant is wreaking havoc in South Africa and this is the cause of all the rapidly rising infections that have seen the country recording as much as 18 000 new cases in a period of twenty-four hours. This was announced by the acting Minister of Health, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane when she addressed the media on Saturday.
According to Minister Kubayi-Ngubane, the variant, which is being referred to as the Delta Covid-19 variant, was the one that was driving infections in the country. She added that as at 25 June, the country had recorded 18 726 new cases, with the majority (11 777) being found in Gauteng alone. What was worse, the minister added, was the increase in the number of hospitalisations. “We remain very worried about the rise in hospitalisation, which is putting a lot of pressure on the healthcare system – we expect this trend to continue in other provinces,” she said. She admitted that there had been statements that the peak of the third wave would not be as bad as the first and second waves but that was because they had not anticipated a new and more potent variant to drive infections.
Also addressing the same media briefing was the co-chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, Professor Koleka Mlisana, who called on the government to place stricter restrictions on the traveling of citizens across the country in order to control infections. Professor Mlisana had also participated in the National Coronavirus Command Council, which had met in the morning of Saturday. She added that it was important for the government to place restrictions on the movement of people and also on gatherings, adding that whatever was happening to Gauteng would be duplicated in other provinces.
On the other hand, health experts in Gauteng have admitted that the rise in the number of infections in the province was “very worrying” but hastened to add that a hard lockdown would be too damaging to the economy of the province. Dr. Mary Kawonga, chair of the Premier’s Advisory Committee (PAC), said that there needed to be a balance between the economy and lives and suggested rather that the restrictions be somewhere between level three and four as it was considered too late, particularly in Gauteng, for a level five lockdown to have the necessary impact.