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Covid-19 fifth wave: WHO Africa warns SA to prep for more Omicron variants

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1651452244 covid 19 update sunday 24 april 2022



The World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa urged leaders in the SADC region to strengthen their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as infections spike dramatically.

On Thursday, National Health Minister Joe Phaahla confirmed South Africa entered the fifth wave, with infections driven by the Omicron lineage BA.4 and BA.5.

Covid-19 fifth wave in SA

Driven by Omicron subvariants

The fifth wave could resemble the previous wave in size and severity, according to health experts.

“Since the beginning of April, South Africa alone has recorded more than 1,300 cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.2 and over 700 cases of subvariants BA.4,” said WHO Africa regional director Abdou Salam Gueye.

The African continent recorded 52,878 Covid-19 cases in the week ending on 8 May, which represents a 38% rise from the week before, reports Power FM.

Resurgence in new Covid-19 cases

“This is largely driven by a spike in Southern Africa, which accounted for 87% of the continent’s recorded cases, breaking a two-month-long decline in recorded infections,” said Gueye.

The fifth wave of infections comes amid relaxed public health and social measures which were implemented at the start of the pandemic.

Health officials are urging South Africans to get their jabs and boosters to prevent high transmission rates.

Death rate and hospitalisation amid fifth wave

Although the fifth wave was likely to be less severe, according to professor of vaccinology Shabir Madhi, SA has been in a fifth wave for the past two to three weeks – especially Gauteng – as it might have peaked with the recent resurgence.

“Most importantly, hospitalisation and death rates have increased, but are substantially lower than with the first three waves and possibly even lower than with the omicron wave,” he said.

Madhi also said the resurgence should be interpreted with caution, especially when trying to make comparisons with the past, and although there was no need to panic, the focus should mainly be on getting at least 90% of people older than 50 years vaccinated with three doses.

Compiled by Narissa Subramoney, additional reporting by Reitumetse Makwea.

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