Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that South Africa has officially been hit by a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections – and that an increase in cases is no longer confined to select ‘hotspot’ areas.
In a media briefing on Wednesday evening (9 December), Mkhize said that four provinces are the key drivers of this new wave:
- The Eastern Cape;
- The Western Cape;
- KwaZulu-Natal; and
“Up to the last week, the increase was mainly in Eastern Cape and the Western Cape in specific districts. But now we have numbers that indicate we are in a second wave,” Mkhize said.
“We look at the number of tests done, the positivity rate, the number of positive cases, the numbers of people who are admitted, and the number of fatalities.”
The Health minister added that South Africa has also breached the 6,000 mark in daily infections, with 6,709 cases reported in the country over the last 24 hours.
Mkhize said that the age distribution of infections has also shown a different pattern form the norm. The age group 15-19 years showed the highest number of cases over the past two days.
We are now is a second wave. Four provinces are the key drivers of this new wave. They are EC, WC, KZN & Gauteng. #MediaBriefingCOVID19SA
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) December 9, 2020
Mkhize said that ‘pressure’ due to increased coronavirus cases has built up in a number of provinces, and after provincial visits this week, his department plans to submit reports to president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet.
“We now need to understand we have a responsibility to enjoy the festive season with restraint,” he said.
In a national address last week, Ramaphosa identified three areas in South Africa that were of particular concern for a sharp rise in the number of new infections:
- Nelson Mandela Bay (EC);
- The Garden Route (WC); and
- Sarah Baartman District (EC).
Of the three areas mentioned, only one was officially declared a hotspot region, with further restrictions put into place to curb the spread of the virus. However, each region has its own warnings in place to identify problem areas on a more granular level.
While Ramaphosa said that these areas could still face localised lockdown restrictions, it is not clear if the emergence of a second coronavirus wave will see the introduction of a higher lockdown level nationally.
Mkhize said that ‘clarity on further restrictions’ will be made after meetings with Ramaphosa and cabinet.