New Covid-19 infections in South Africa’s most populous province have slowed, and data from positive tests and hospitalizations show that the fifth wave to hit the province in the past three weeks has peaked.

This is evidenced by data and analysis published by Senior Research Fellow of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr. Ridhvaan Suliman, who said that national data also point to the latest wave of infections. The only indicator that still shows an upward trend is the mortality associated with Covid – a figure that usually lags behind.

The fifth wave is controlled by two lines of the Omicron BA.1 Covid-19 variant, designated BA.4 and BA.5.

Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 were first discovered in February 2022. Since its first appearance the lines have increased from <1% of all cases to over 50%.

Currently, they are still classified as an Omicron variant, which means they are not a new variant; rather, it is Omicron viruses with a new combination of mutations. Both lines have been found in countries outside of South Africa.

The latest data on the infection, released by the Ministry of Health, shows that 8,179 new infections were registered in South Africa on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases across the country to 3.9 million since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

55 new deaths were recorded. With a total recovery of 3.72 million, the number of active cases in the country is 80,191, and the level of positive tests is 22.8%.

While Gauteng recorded the largest number of new cases – 3,119 infections – it is no longer a province at the epicenter of the fifth wave. KwaZulu Natal is the province with the most active diseases – 34,187.

The peak – but not over

Suliman said the good news for Gauteng is that the data shows that cases have peaked, positive tests have peaked, hospitalizations have begun to decline and mortality remains low.

“Cases during this wave of BA.4 / BA.5 peaked at 30.1% of the Omicron BA.1 peak,” he said, noting that testing was also lower, which should be taken into account.

The average number of new infections in seven days is only 2,617 (16.6 per 100,000 people) and decreased by 17% for the week. The level of positivity for the week ending May 14 is still well above the 24.1% threshold, but it is also declining, he said.

He said hospitalizations in the province make up about a third of what was seen during the fourth wave, and have begun to decline. Meanwhile, the death toll is still rising – but this is expected as the death toll lags behind data on infection and hospitalization.

“Overall, trends in this fifth wave of Covid infection in Gauteng, caused by BA.4 and BA.5, continue as expected: a large number of infections – underestimated – but a much smaller number of hospitalizations and deaths due to high levels of immunity.” said Suliman. .

Suliman’s position is in line with data published by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD), which also shows a reduction in the number of infections in several other provinces.

Read: Fifth Wave of Covid in South Africa May Already Reach Peak: Expert

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