- The third wave of Covid-19 is expected in three weeks in Gauteng.
- Gauteng Premier David Makhura says case numbers in Emfuleni are worrying.
- The province has received 61 600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
As new Covid-19 cases have doubled in Gauteng, the provincial government estimates that a third wave of the virus will hit in the next three weeks.
Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, virologist Professor Shabir Madhi said: "My estimate is that if you look at what happened with the first and second wave, in three weeks from now, we are going to be seeing much more cases. We aren't in the threshold range yet, but we are on track to experience a third wave in three weeks."
He said while the third wave was inevitable, there was some good news.
"We expect the third wave to be less severe than the second and first waves. That is the good news, provided the virus doesn't mutate. If there's one thing we need to do as a province, is avoiding super spreader events."
Dr Mary Kawonga, from the Gauteng advisory committee on Covid-19, said: "Over the last few weeks, the numbers have been fairly stable at around 300 or so. In the last week, we have been seeing a worrying spike in new cases."
She said in the past week there had been an uptick in the seven-day average in new cases.
"We have not reached the third wave threshold spike yet, but we are worried."
On Thursday, Gauteng recorded 688 new cases. She said cases were increasing in parts of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Sedibeng.
Emfuleni [in Sedibeng] is the most worrying area. It has had the highest number of new cases, per day, per week for three weeks. The numbers in that area are approaching the third wave threshold.
Professor Bruce Mellado said they were monitoring localised hotspots in Sedibeng to try and curb the spread.
"Sedibeng, for a number of weeks and even months, has been quite high. Now that we are seeing a resurgence in the number of cases, it is shooting high. Wave's start will see a lot of cases in localised areas."
Emfuleni recorded 115 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday.
The province was monitoring different data in an effort to track the start of the third wave.
Mellado said when they looked at the travel data monitoring tool, it showed that people were travelling more.
"We are now at the level of mobility that we had right before the second wave," he said.
Dr Sifiso Maseko, head of Gauteng health infrastructure, said they had increased bed capacity in hospitals. He said the province had 3 261 beds for admission available and 803 for isolation beds.
The province had previously decommissioned the Nasrec field hospital that was set up last year. Maseko said if there was a need, they might reopen field hospitals.
Madhi said the only way for people to get back to normal was to vaccinate.
We have to get the vaccines into the arms of high-risk groups. We need to do everything within our grasp to get them vaccinated. We need to get 80-90 percent of the high-risk groups vaccinated, and we can get back to relative normality. Covid-19 is going to be here for the rest of our lives. We need to be comfortable with that.
Nomsa Mmope, the acting head of the Gauteng health department, said so far, as part of the Sisonke Johnson & Johnson implementation study, 90 346 healthcare workers had been vaccinated. The aim was to vaccinate 112 000 healthcare workers through the study.
She said the province had been allocated 61 000 Pfizer vaccine shots that were recently delivered to the country. Vaccination would start on 17 May and Mmope said 235 000 people registered on the electronic vaccination data system.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura warned people to adhere to protocols.
"We cannot afford to shut down the economy. The only way to deal with this is to take charge. People must wear masks and avoid crowds."