Experts 'keeping close eye on hospital bed numbers' as SA enters fourth wave
- Wits Prof Francois Venter says health experts are closely watching Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths in the next two weeks
- South Africa is entering the fourth wave with sustained increases in Covid-19 infections across seven provinces
- Venter advises against the implementation of a hard lockdown or any further restrictions except for limiting indoor gatherings
Infectious disease specialist Professor Francois Venter says health experts will be monitoring Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths in the next two weeks to begin analysing the new wave of infections.
South Africa is entering a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections which has coincided with the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Prof Venter says it would be premature to make predictions about the severity of the fourth wave before seeing the data on hospital admissions and deaths which usually lags behind new infections by two weeks.
"I think it's too early to say yet", he tells CapeTalk.
At the same time, he says the fourth wave will likely follow a similar pattern as the third wave in terms of how infections unfold across various provinces.
The professor has advised against another hard lockdown or any harsher Covid-19 restrictions.
He argues that government should only revise the rules on indoor gatherings.
He says scientists cannot say for sure that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than the Delta variant at this stage.
However, vaccinologist Prof Shabir Mahdi has told CapeTalk that the Omicron Covid-19 variant appears to spread quicker.
Prof Venter has urged people to get vaccinated, wear masks, practice hand hygiene, maintain social distancing and avoid unventilated, indoor spaces.
"If you're vaccinated, don't take anything for granted", he warns.
It's extremely early days and people need to be very careful about making predictions.Prof Francois Venter, Director of Ezintsha - Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute
It's spreading very rapidly through Gauteng, we're seeing it moving through schools, through workplaces, through families very quickly... whether it's moving more quickly than the Delta variant that hit us in June/July earlier this year, we are not certain.Prof Francois Venter, Director of Ezintsha - Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute
All the scientists, epidemiologists, and public policy people are keeping a very close eye on the hospital bed numbers as of next week because that's when we're going to be stress-testing the vaccine programme and our immune systems from the previous wave.Prof Francois Venter, Director of Ezintsha - Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute
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