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THE BIG STORY: GREENSHOOTS IN COVID-19 BUT WE’RE STILL IN THE EYE OF THE STORM

Could SA’s new restrictions be working? Since the country entered its second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic around 9 December, cases have soared beyond what was seen during the first wave. That prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to put the country on advanced level 3 lockdown at the end of December, with a new curfew, an alcohol ban and restrictions on gatherings.

The number of cases and deaths has since steadily spiked. BUT in the past few days, we’ve seen the number of cases decline. Is this cause for cautious optimism? The slowing of the second wave? 

A quick recap : SA’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases says a second wave is a new wave, lasting one or more days after the first wave has ended. It happens after the previous wave’s peak, where the caseload is at least 30% of the previous peak’s caseload.

Dr Ridhwaan Suliman, a senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, tweeted this week that the percentage of tests coming back positive is trending downwards. This week, Western Cape premier Alan Winde declared the province’s second surge over. It’s possible that the advanced level 3 restrictions are bearing fruit. 

All of this is good news. But – and there’s always a but – this pandemic is not going anywhere just yet.

The Guardian this week reported that, without a vaccine, SA could face a third, and possibly even a fourth wave. And vaccines for the entire country will not arrive for many months.

President Ramaphosa says the country is better prepared for a third wave than it was for the second. Still, he’s urged SA not to be complacent and to keep social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks. It’s the only way we’ll see the end of this wave, or the next.

This story was originally published in The Wrap here.

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