The country has moved into lockdown Level 1, allowing for more freedom of movement and economic activities to resume. However, experts fear this may cause a surge in COVID-19 infections again, especially after the Easter weekend in April when many are likely to travel across provinces and gather with families and friends.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said: “We are all concerned about the possibility of a third wave, or resurgence after Easter (April),” he said as part of a Wits panel discussion on Monday, March one, reports Business Tech.
But the government is prepared to deal with the third wave when it hits thanks to the experience gained in the first two waves, professor Abdool Karim, co-chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 said according to the SABC.
“Based on what we’ve done so far we have got the experience of the first wave and a very severe second wave, so we have the elements of what needs to be done, how to ensure we have adequate oxygen, how to ensure we have adequate field hospital beds. Where we are experiencing challenges is in ensuring that we can maintain and keep down those little sparks that lead to slight jumps in the number of cases because those sparks can lead into a fully-fledged third wave. So all in all I think mostly we are prepared.”
Not all are as optimistic, though as Professor Alex van den Heever, Chair of Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies – Wits School of Governance said the number of people vaccinated this year is not enough to offer protection.
“While we’ve got this fairly widespread community-based transmission we are at risk, at any point of a further surge. This year we will not vaccinate enough people to reach herd immunity,” he told Kfm. He added that the coming winter months will escalate the third wave and will make it difficult to contain the spread of the virus.
“We are nowhere close to dealing with that problem.