Experts are reportedly calling for a stricter lockdown level, as the country faces a vicious COVID-19 third wave. 

“In the absence of a mass vaccination rollout, experts have advised that tighter lockdown restrictions be implemented to avoid a vicious COVID-19 third wave propelled by new variants,” a News24 report said on Tuesday.

The Free State health department announced last week that the province was officially in the third wave of COVID-19, according to The Citizen.

“We are now in the third wave of the outbreak and have today [Friday, May 7] seen a shocking rise of infections, to 427 new cases, with 60 yet to be allocated to appropriate districts,” spokesperson Mondli Mvambi was quoted as saying.

Infection numbers doubling 

Meanwhile, the Gauteng province also warned of an imminent third wave, as the rise of COVID-19 infections remained a concern for the provincial government, eNCA reported.

The province had more than 4 000 active COVID-19 cases, and infection numbers were doubling weekly in some areas, the report said.

This came as the Health Department said two variants of concern had been detected in South Africa.

Reports over the weekend indicated that at least eight people in the Western Cape had tested positive for the COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

Of the B.1.1.7 variant which was first detected in the UK, there were 11 cases, while the B.1.617.2 variant, which was first detected in India, four cases had been detected.

Detection of new variants is inevitable

Of the 11 people who tested positive for the variant first detected in the UK, eight were detected in Western Cape. Of those from the Western Cape, two had a history of traveling from Bahrain.

From the 11, one person was from KwaZulu-Natal and two were detected in Gauteng.

“The B.1.1.7 has been detected in community samples and this, therefore, suggests that community transmission of B.1.1.7 has already set in.

“As the epidemic progresses, the detection of new variants is inevitable. The work of genomic surveillance assists us to detect the variants and understand their behaviour and to refine vaccines so they remain effective,” Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.

Meanwhile, South Africa recorded 1 129 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24-hours, bringing the total number of cases to 1 597 724.

In a statement, Mkhize said: “today, 90 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 14, Free State 0, Gauteng 5, Kwa-Zulu Natal 0, Limpopo 0, Mpumalanga 6, North West 33, Northern Cape 13 and Western Cape 19 which brings the total to 54 825 deaths,” Mkhize said. 

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