On Sunday night, June 27, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country will be moving to level 4 lockdown as a result of the rising number of Covid-19 infections.
The Covid-19 Delta variant has now mutated from the Beta variant, and is more contagious than the latter.
Ramaphosa confirmed that this variant is found five provinces thus far – the Eastern Cape, the Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
“We are concerned about the rapid spread of this variant… It is easier to catch this variant.
“The Covid-19 virus that descended on our country in March of last year has been continuing to mutate, creating new variants.
“Our scientists tell us that Covid-19 has many variants. Last year we experienced what they called a Beta variant. In addition we now have a Delta variant. This variant was first detected in India at the end of March of this year and is now found in 85 countries around the world.
“The evidence we have is that the Delta variant is rapidly displacing the Beta variant which has been dominant in our country until now. We are concerned about the rapid spread of this variant. Firstly, because it is more transmissible.
“Secondly, because it is more contagious, it can infect far more people.
“Thirdly, there is now emerging scientific evidence that people previously infected with the Beta variant do not have full protection against the Delta variant, and may get reinfected.
“Fourthly, because it is much more contagious, the measures we have so far adopted to contain the spread of the virus may no longer be sufficient to reduce transmission.
“As of today, the seven day average of new daily cases nationally has overtaken the peak of the first wave in July last year and will soon overtake the peak of the second wave we experienced in January of this year.
“Gauteng now accounts for more than 60% of new cases in the country. With the exception of the Northern Cape and the Free State, infections are rising rapidly in all the provinces.
“The first wave lasted 15 weeks. The second wave lasted nine weeks. We don’t know how long this one will last, but indications are that it could last longer,” he said.
According to TimesLive, these comments follow the briefing by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) over the weekend that highlighted the increase in Covid-19 infections brought about by the Delta variant, which was first identified in India.
Meanwhile, health expert Professor Tulio de Oliveira said that the Delta variant is far more transmissible than the other variants and can reinfect people who have already been sick from the previous variants, eNCA reports.
“It is really, really highly transmissible, more than all other variants including the one in South Africa,” he said.